2SLGBTQ+ Programs

As a youth-centered organization, the MacPhee Centre is committed to providing programming that is responsive to the needs of our community while reflecting the interests of diverse youth from across the province. In 2016-2017 during the Nova Scotia Teacher’s Union (NSTU) work-to-rule job action, LGBTQ+ youth attending the MacPhee Centre identified a need for safe spaces in the community to replace school GSAs– and from this, the MacPhee Centre’s first Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) program was born!

In 2021 the MacPhee Centre was pleased to announce the launch of a pilot that expanded our offering from one GSA program to three (including a pan-provincial virtual GSA and a Closed QTBIPOC space), and the development of a suite of art and creativity-based programs that center issues of sexuality and gender. GSA Youth were even recognized for their role in community when they were named the 2021 Halifax Pride Ambassadors, allowing MacPhee youth voices to be at the forefront of the festival.

MacPhee has consistently provided a safer space for 2SLGBTQ+ youth to gather, learn, seek support, and build community since January 2017. We remain one of the largest GSA groups provincially with over 900 visits to one of MacPhee’s 2SLGBTQ+ spaces last year.

Check out our 2SLGBTQ+ programs for the fall:

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“There is huge value in the arts and creative expression as a method to communicate feelings of hope and lived experiences. I was taught the value of my voice, self-advocacy, and solidarity. Walking into GSA that [first] day was completely life-changing: I suddenly knew what it was to exist in safety and understood the value of my own art and expression. That is what the MacPhee Centre was for me, but my story isn’t unique here: this is what it’s been for hundreds of other youth.”

Jennifer, Chair - Youth Ambassador Program 2020-2021

Philosophy

Community consultation and highlighting youth voice is at the core of our 2SLGBTQ+ Pilot. From the very beginning, MacPhee’s GSA programming has been youth driven and focused on developing positive and affirming experiences that allow 2SLGBTQ+ youth to envision a future where they can thrive as their most authentic selves.

While creative programs are at the core of what we do, we recognize that they are the vehicle for social inclusion, supporting one’s mental wellness, and act as an opportunity for people to articulate their thoughts or feelings through many mediums. We encourage this type of understanding through programming elements such as a check-in – where participants can share how are feeling on a particular day if they choose to, creating a set of community standards which allows youth to express what they need to feel safe in the space, and co-creating program schedules, giving youth the power of choice to decide what they want to do.

There is a precedent for the success of using creativity as a vehicle to address larger social issues in the lives of our youth. We recognize that 2SLGBTQ+ youth are experiencing gaps in programming and services related to their identities. As an organization that works collaboratively with some of the major institutions in these youth’s lives, we can play an important role in supporting the holistic youth while working with them to develop resiliency and advocacy skills.

How we do what we do

  • Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Programs offered in-house and virtually
  • Outreach programs offered in partnership with schools and community groups
  • Special Events
  • Services & Supports from a gender affirming and queer lens

Want to get involved? Check out our current program offering or contact Courtney (courtney@macpheecentre.ca | 902.818.1290) on our team to book a program for your school or community!

The Need

2SLGBTQ+ youth are resilient but the systems and structures of our world don’t always recognize, affirm, or celebrate them and because of this there is need for programming that bridges this gap.

A recent report released by the Jasmin Roy Foundation (2017) on the realities, values, and needs, of LGBT community members estimates 26% of the 18–24-year-old demographic identifies as part of the community. More than a third of respondents report experiencing discrimination in the school or workplace and 75% of respondents report experiencing bullying (compared to 45% of their heterosexual and cisgender peers).

We see these statistics reflected in the experiences of our youth. Through the 2SLGBTQ+ pilot we aim to accomplish the following outcomes:

  • Service Gaps- Further identify and understand gaps in programming and services through conducting community consultations with 2SLGBTQ+ youth. These consultations will inform the development of programming that is truly youth-informed, youth-driven, and youth-led.
  • Community and Belonging- Development of a sense of belonging for youth through the creation of spaces where 2SLGBTQ+ youth and mentors can engage in personal growth and community building. Acknowledging that 51% of 2SLGBTQ+ youth participants in a national survey indicated that they do not feel a sense of community (Youthline) this is critical to ensuring positive development.
  • Sexuality & Gender Health- Ensure access to comprehensive & affirming resources around sex and gender health education recognizing that a lack of comprehensive curriculum addressing the unique needs of 2SLGBTQ+ youth results in increased propensity to engage in risky behaviours and encounter sexualized violence (Sanchez 2012).
  • Mental Health- Ensure access to mental health supports and navigation in community, recognizing LBGTQ+ youth are approximately 14 times more at risk for suicide and substance abuse (CMHA 2020).
  • Path to Success- Equip youth with valuable life and career skills that are indicators of future success. Bisexual & trans people for example are overrepresented among low-income Canadians with some adults living on less than $15k a year (CMHA 2020)

“For a lot of queer youth, the community means home and a chosen family, a group of people who understand your lived experiences because they’ve had their own”

Tegan, Youth Ambassador