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Calling all young artists! Help advocate for LGBT inclusion

Poster for national digital art content - 3 young people and brief instructions

by Janet Mawhinney, Director of Community Engagement at CAMH

Are you an artistic young person that believes in inclusion for all people – regardless of sexual or gender orientation? Do you celebrate diversity?

You’re invited to submit your art by April 25, 2014 – as part of the 4th Wall Youth Solidarity project, a joint project of the Michaëlle Jean Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and WorldPride 2014 Toronto.

Why we like the Youth Solidarity Project

CAMH is a proud partner and supporter of the 4th Wall Youth Solidarity Project because it promotes safe, inclusive and healthy communities for Two-Spirited and LGBT youth (includes lesbian, gay, bi, trans, two spirit, intersex, queer, questioning/ a.k.a. LGBTTTIQ).

LGBT youth come from all communities, nationalities, diversities and cultures. The 4th Wall Project emphasizes the racial, cultural, ethnic and other diversities within LGBT communities. These young people – and their allies – consistently demonstrate resilience and creativity in building positive and safe communities whether through advocacy, gay-straight alliances, education or art.

The  theme of making the invisible visible, and breaking down us versus them thinking resonates with CAMH’s anti-stigma work on mental health and addiction.

Coming out and finding supportive family and friends is an important part of building a positive community. However, it can be a stressful process during which drug and alcohol use, as well as suicidal feelings, anxiety and depression may increase.

Great progress has been made for basic LGBT human rights, social inclusion and awareness. However, we still have to address the realities of discrimination, fear, exclusion and bullying – and their impact on health and wellbeing.

  • LGBT youth are five to six times more likely than their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide.
  • 6 out of 10 LGBT students reported being verbally harassed about their sexual orientation.
  • 1 in 4 LGBT students has been physically harassed about their sexual orientation.
  • 75 percent of LGBT students and 95 percent of transgender students felt unsafe at school (compared to one-fifth of straight students).
  • More than one in four LGBT students and almost half of transgender students had skipped school because they felt unsafe (compared to less than 1 in ten non-LGBT students).

If you’re a young artist, you can create art that conveys messages of resiliency, courage and solidarity – and you don’t have to be LGBT to enter the contest! Friends and allies are welcome!

>> Submit your artwork online

And please help spread the word with your networks and partners! #YSP14

CAMH support and services for the LGBT community – and some resources

  • Rainbow Services provides counselling to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, two-spirit and intersex people who are concerned about their use of drugs and alcohol. Our programs are specialized to take into account the unique needs and issues that LGBT people face.
  • Substance Abuse Program for African, Canadian and Caribbean Youth provides support and counselling to black youth and their families who are dealing with problem substance use – with specific services for LGBT youth.
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