31 Aug 2012, Posted by caeoadmin


SILK (Sexual Information Leads to Knowledge) is a volunteer program that was developed in 2008 to cater to the needs of three target populations; the present focus being on Montreal Anglophone high school students. Future projects will focus on the senior citizen and Aboriginal youth populations. SILK provides free workshops to all the Anglophone high schools (as well as a few CEGEPs and universities) on the island of Montreal.

Being called a “fag” or a “dyke” is one of the most common insults that one can hear in the halls of any school. Additionally, “that’s so gay” is often itself a derogatory phrase, used synonymously with “that sucks.”  Habits like these create a homophobic and intolerant atmosphere in a school, and as a result, youth who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning, or who are simply perceived as that, are often placed at great risk within school environments.

According to the Québec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission (2001), “Youths are often exposed to homophobic jokes and innuendos, harassment, outright rejection, incomprehension, and are sometimes victims of violence. At the very moment, when they most need a supportive school and family environment, they are too often left alone, unable to look for the help they so desperately need.  In many cases, such situations can cause them to refuse their own sexual orientation, to drop-out of school, and, in some cases, to run away from their own family.”  In response to this threat, our workshops aim to provide students of all sexual orientations with:

  • a non-judgmental space within which to discuss issues of sexual and gender identity
  • knowledge to identify put-downs within their everyday interactions
  • practical strategies to reduce homophobia in everyday situations
  • greater empathy with the struggle of growing up gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, queer (LGBTQ) or questioning one’s sexual orientation or gender identity
  • information about key resources available to youth in Montreal

Our second targeted population is senior citizens who currently live in retirement homes.  Stemming from numerous calls received at Gay Line from this particular group, it was discovered that several seniors were going back into the closet due to fear of discrimination from staff and other senior home residents. SILK is developing a workshop to try and minimise the homosexual stigma that is often shared by older generations.  Our goal is not necessarily to change their minds about homosexuality, but to humanise people of diverse sexual orientation so that they are no longer ostracised within their own living environment.  Hopefully this acceptance will be carried into their opinions of their own family members or friends that identify as LGBTQ.

Finally, our last target population is aboriginal youth.  Prior to colonisation in Canada, aboriginals had their own interpretation of gender and sexual orientation that was very inclusive of sexual diversity.  It wasn’t until Western ideology came in and transformed their belief system did homosexuality become taboo and socially unacceptable.  SILK plans to provide workshops that will attempt to return prior schools of aboriginal thought on sexuality in native schools and to bring back the notion of two-spirited individuals.

Our volunteers are diverse in age, ethnic background, gender identity, sexual orientation and personality, and have all passed rigorous training sessions.  They are all capable of speaking about a wide range of issues on sexual health, orientation, and diversity through open discussion and question and answers.  If you are interested in joining our team, please submit a resume and cover letter along with a list of 2 references to kelley.rojas@caeoquebec.org . A pre-interview questionnaire will be sent out upon receipt of your application.

**Please note that we are no longer considering applications for the November 2013 training. Any applications received will be considered for future trainings. Thank you! 


Kimberly Wong
Program Director, SILK
CAEO Québec

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