SILK (Sexual Information Leads to Knowledge) is an educational program that provides English speaking high schools with free workshops geared to increase awareness and knowledge on sexual orientation, gender identity, diversity and inclusivity. This programs aims to dispel homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, queerphobia, intersexism and heterosexism to help make schools a safer space for all students.
Being called, “fag,” hearing, “no homo” and many other insults based on sexual or gender identity are some 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 queerphobic, transphobic and intolerant atmosphere in a school, and as a result, queer and trans youth, or those who are simply perceived as that, are often placed at great risk within school environments.
According to Egale’s School Climate Survey Report “Youth Speak Up about Homophobia and Transphobia” (2009):
- Three-quarters of LGBTQ students and 95% of trans students feel unsafe at school, compared to one-fifth of heterosexual students.
- Over a quarter of LGBTQ students and almost half of trans students had skipped school because they felt unsafe, compared to fewer than a tenth of non-LGBTQ students.
- Over half of LGBTQ students did not feel accepted at school, and almost half felt they could not be themselves at school, compared to one-fifth of heterosexual students.
In response to these findings, our workshops aim to provide students of all sexual identities with:
- a non-judgmental space within which to discuss issues of sexual and gender identity
- knowledge to identify queer and transphobic behaviour within their everyday interactions
- practical strategies to reduce this type of behaviour in everyday situations
- greater empathy with the struggle of growing up queer, trans or questioning one’s sexual or gender identity
- information about key resources available to youth in Montreal
Our volunteers are diverse in age, ethnocultural and religious backgrounds, 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 booking a workshop, send an e-mail to the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks for your interest!
Director General, SILK Director
Some feedback from students:
- Thank you very much for the presentation. The personal experiences are helpful and they teach us a lot. And the subjects were very interesting and thank you for being this open. A close family friend died last year from HIV. All my family was affected and I never learned the biological and personal things and issues behind this.
- I’m really happy for all of you 3 for being able to do what you do to get in front of people and telling your stories and it makes me more comfortable about myself being bisexual and I really appreciate you guys coming today and talking to us and giving us the numbers. Thank you
- I truly enjoyed this presentation. I learned a lot about what LGBTQ is and I learned so many new words that I didn’t know before. I truly appreciated the speakers coming to tell their stories!
- This workshop helped me a lot on accepting who I am even more.
- You have changed my mind a lot on this subject. I shall try to erase these words [slurs] from my vocabulary.
- I found the workshop very helpful because initially I thought I already knew a lot about the LGBTQ+ community but I learned a lot more. Also I think that we all needed to hear that we have to stop using words like “gay” and “faggot” in such a negative manner. It’s a force of habit we have to break
- It’s a pleasure to hear all your stories and though I know I’m not in the situation, I know it’ll definitely be helpful in the future — from an Ally
- Your stories are truly inspiring and encourages me to do something to make people aware
- Thank you for making me feel comfortable with myself and my sexuality
- I really enjoyed listening to your stories. you guys aren’t afraid to be who you are and good for you because so many people are afraid and you’re embracing it so yay!
- I found it very different to hear these stories. It doesn’t affect me as much as it can affect others, but this experience definitely did change my perspective
- I like it because it make people realize that what they do or say can cause damage
P.S. Check out SILK’s Tumblr Page: caeosilk.tumblr.com