This November, I was lucky enough to attend a local Out in Schools presentation for a Grade 9 class.

Out in Schools’ presentations are exclusively for the students and faculty of the schools visited, creating a safe space for exploration and engagement. Inviting non-essential observers to a presentation intrudes into that safe space, so very few Out On Screen staff have ever witnessed a presentation. However, we do have access to all the presentation materials. It’s a bit like having a screenplay but never seeing the movie: we know the message, but don’t get to experience the magic.

Many of our funders and donors ask us about what happens during an Out in Schools presentation and since I had the honor of attending one, I want to share that experience with you,

It was 8:30am on a Tuesday and Vancouver was being its typical grey and rainy self. The halls of the school were relatively quiet as the two facilitators—Gavin and Joanne— and I walked passed rows and rows of lockers to get to the admin office.

Once there, we were greeted warmly and led to where we could set up our equipment. While Gavin and Joanne hooked up the projector and figured out which speakers they were using, I learned how to dim the overhead lights and the teacher who welcomed us told us about the school.

We were all ready and waiting when the students poured into the presentation room as the first bell rang.

Gavin and Joanne started the presentation with an introduction of themselves and the organization and then screened a short film. In the film, a boy and a girl each get ready for a date, but at the end it turns out they weren’t going on a date with each other; instead, they were each going on a date with someone of the same gender. The film set the stage for a dynamic conversation about stereotypes, expectations, how people are perceived, and intersecting identities.

Two more films were screened and between each one Gavin and Joanne maintained a lively presence while they defined terms, delved into the spectrum of gender, explored facets of identity, and answered questions.

After the presentation a student approached us, introduced themselves and chatted briefly about the presentation, their schools’ Gender-Sexuality Alliance, and where the gender neutral washrooms were.  As teachers and other students passed, stopping to thank us and ask questions, the student migrated to the row of seats just in front of us but did not go far. When Gavin was offered a handshake as a thank you from a teacher, the student jumped up and extended their hand “Can I have one too?” they asked.

One student asking for a handshake.

One facilitator grasping not just a hand, but a heart.

I collect and track many numbers and statistics in the course of my job, but none of them can adequately convey the significance of that one moment, or any of the ‘one moments’ that happen because of Out in Schools’ presentations and facilitators. There is no chart that records the magnitude of a young person identifying the queer part of themselves in a positive role model; no statistics I can use to describe the look in that student’s eyes as they shook Gavin’s hand.

We need your help to keep making these moments happen.

Making Hallways Bright is our annual year-end fundraising campaign for Out in Schools. In partnership with Scotiabank, this campaign will contribute directly to supporting Out in Schools program delivery in schools across BC.

This December, we’re raising $10,000 to help Out in Schools reach 10,000 students. The Scotiabank branch at Robson & Bute will be matching all donations dollar-for-dollar, up to $5,000.

Donate now online or in-person at the Scotiabank Robson & Bute branch.

Your gift is #MakingHallwaysBright for queer, trans, and two-spirit youth across BC, and making countless moments of connection possible.

Thank you.

nay-and-unicorn-2

Tenay is the newest full-time member of the Out On Screen team. As the Communications Officer, Tenay oversees all of our social media and communications, bringing the Out On Screen voice to the community. She is incredibly happy to help illuminate and celebrate LGBT2Q+ lives. Her favourite animals are penguins and unicorns.