What is the SOY community?
SOY’s community is made up of youth participants, staff, volunteers and allies.
Who are participants?
Participants are youth between the age of 14-29 who attend SOY programs and identify across the queer and trans spectrum, including questioning.
Who are staff?
Staff are the people at SOY who facilitate, coordinate and ensure the smooth function of SOY programs. SOY staff generally identify within the queer and trans spectrum.
Who are volunteers?
Volunteers are members from the community who help SOY to provide programs and services. SOY strives to recruit volunteers who represent the full diversity of our queer and trans communities. This includes age, abilities, class, color, ethnicity, gender identity and sexuality.
Who are allies?
Allies support a community or group although they do not identify with all aspects of that community. For example, a straight identified youth in a queer youth space. Allies are welcome to participate in all SOY groups only with the agreement and consent of the group participants. Allies understand discrimination and contribute to the creation of a safe space by placing their focus on the needs of group members.
SOY’s programs and services are youth-centred and we invite and encourage youth engagement. Youth issues and youth-focused spaces are therefore what SOY reinforces.
What is SOY’s age range?
Participants are considered to be youth up to the age of 29. This is to ensure youth who face complex and diverse challenges still have access to our resources.
Who are Youth Helpers?
Participants in SOY groups are welcome to help out at groups they attend. Youth helpers help with setting up the room, preparing food and cleaning up, or other tasks necessary. Youth helpers remain participants and continue to actively partake in programming and events.
Are there resources/options available for queer and trans spectrum people over the age of 29?
At the age of 29, involvement with SOY as a participant ends. SOY requires people who are 30 and older apply to volunteer. You must complete a volunteer application and go through a screening process with a SOY staff member.
Please see our Links and Resources page for services and groups available to those over the age of 29.
What is SOY’s commitment to diversity?
As a community of youth and adults, SOY creates a welcoming atmosphere and develops programs that reflect our commitment to social justice.
SOY develops programs to address the complex social issues faced by queer and trans youth, including untapped creativity, marginalization, rejection/ isolation, neglect/violence, poverty/lack of power and privilege, as well as discrimination and harassment/bashing.
What do we mean by safe space?
Everyone at SOY has the right to feel safe and included. SOY aims to create a space that is free of any type of discrimination for queer, trans and questioning youth. Safe space is an environment in which everyone feels comfortable expressing themselves and participating fully, without fear of attack, ridicule, or denial of experience.
Safe space is where you feel welcome, respected and like you belong.
How do we create safe space at SOY?
All SOY groups follow the Respect Agreement in addition to having their own guidelines for building and holding safe space together. The Respect Agreement is posted in all group rooms at Sherbourne.
The Respect Agreement
What does respect look like to you and others? Make the space feel safe for you. Each group that uses this space is encouraged to add their own relevant items to build on these basic guidelines.
Pay attention to the speaker.
Limit side conversation.
Allow people to speak without interruption.
Be aware of how much you are speaking: are other getting a chance to contribute?
Groups are encouraged to come to an agreement regarding where and when the information that is shared is allow to leave the space, if ever.
Acknowledge that people are coming from different places in life and that means that they have different feelings/opinions about things and make different choices.
Recognize that each person has value and they deserve to be treated in ways that reflect this.
Use and Anti-Oppression Framework
Use respectful words when talking about people, their identities and their life experiences or ask if you don’t know which words are best to use.
For example, if you are unsure of how someone identifies in terms of gender, ask “Do you go by he, she, they or another pronoun?”
Examine your attitudes and actions toward ability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity and religion, in a way that is respectful, inclusive and not hurtful.
Communicate with Respect
Use “I statements” like “I felt the situation was uncomfortable.” Or “when this happens, I often get anxious.”
Only volunteer your own feelings, opinions and experiences on a subject (not those of someone else).
Public Displays of Affection
Out of respect for others in the room, please keep public displays of affection to a minimum. This means no making out in group.
Please leave the room as you found it.
What about PDA (public displays of affection) in group?
For the comfort of other group members, while attending SOY, it is expected that public displays of affection be brief and respectful. This means no making out in group.
To ensure the safety of youth, volunteers undergo screening. Staff, adults and volunteers are strictly prohibited from engaging in romantic or sexual relationships with youth.
What does it mean to work from an anti-oppressive framework?
· Actively working to challenge unjust uses of power. In favor of inclusiveness, accessibility, equity and social justice.
· Being conscious and active in the process of learning and recognizing that the process is just as important as the outcome.
· Creating a space where people are safe, but can also be challenged.
· Asking questions.
How can I make a positive contribution to SOY?
At SOY, we believe that everybody has something to offer. We encourage you to:
· Share your curiosity and ideas in the spaces where they can be fostered and used.
· Be mindful and respectful of the unique nature and purpose of each group.
· Welcome youth who are new to SOY or the community.
· Respect yourself, other group members and the space.
· Contribute to creating an atmosphere where there is no unwanted pressure to get into romantic or sexual relationships.
· Be open to learning and listening. Questions are encouraged and welcome.
What can I do if I have ideas, feedback or criticism about something at SOY?
Please get in touch with SOY staff. We are happy to set up a meeting, talk on the phone or email with you. All groups also do formal evaluations twice per year and youth are welcome to share feedback during the evaluation.
If you would like to follow up with a specific SOY staff member, please see the Contact page. Otherwise, contact the SOY main office:
SOY Main Office 333 Sherbourne Street, 2nd Floor Toronto, ON M5A 2S5 416-324-5077 (phone) | 416-324-4262 (fax) [email protected]
You can also give feedback through the official Sherbourne Health Centre process: http://sherbourne.on.ca/feedba…