What is SOY?
Supporting Our Youth (SOY) is an exciting, dynamic community development
program designed to improve the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual,
transsexual and transgendered youth in Toronto through the active
involvement of youth and adult communities. We work to create healthy
arts, culture and recreational spaces for young people; to provide
supportive housing and employment opportunities; and to increase
youth access to adult mentoring and support.
The Toronto Coalition for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth was formed
in 1991 as an open network of social service professionals, health
care providers, educators, youth, parents, activists and other individuals
concerned with improving the quality of life for lesbian, gay and
bisexual youth in Toronto. The Coalition found that the division
between lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth and adults was an issue
for Toronto's queer community. Young people expressed feeling alienated
from the community and separated from adults at precisely the time
in their lives when they were most vulnerable and isolated. Adults
expressed regret that a city the size of Toronto, with its large
lesbian, gay and bisexual community, didn't offer more youth-oriented,
youth-focused social and recreational alternatives.
After forming a volunteer advisory committee and conducting a six-month
study to determine the needs of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth,
the Supporting Our Youth Project was launched in April of 1998.
Funded by the Trillium Foundation, Supporting Our Youth was originally
developed as a three-year community development project, designed
to create opportunities for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in such
areas as sports and recreation, arts and culture, employment, and
mentoring and housing. Based at Central Toronto Youth Services,
a children's mental health centre in downtown Toronto, this exciting,
dynamic project evolved into an ongoing effort, with a variety of
innovative initiatives, a hardworking and dedicated staff and enthusiastic,
In September 2004, SOY officially became a program of the Sherbourne
Health Centre, where we continue to offer the same opportunities
for adults and youth to build community together in unique, exciting
and creative ways.