“If I tell my parents I’m trans, they’ll kick me out. What should I do?”
“How can I see a doctor?”
“Can you help me buy a Pride flag?”
“Where can I get a chest binder?”
“How do I find a counsellor?”
These are just a few of the questions Etcetera team members receive from youth on a regular basis. Imagine there are only one or two places where you feel safe to be yourself. That’s an unfortunate reality for many youths in our community, and it’s the problem that the Etcetera 2SLGBTQIA+ youth group, through the Kelowna Pride Society, set out to help solve around 2013. For us, Pride season happens 365 days per year: we are so very proud of the courage and resilience of our youth members, and we are proud of the community that wraps around them. We know these sparkly, brilliant, and funny young people are so worthy of the community’s investment of time, money, advocacy, and love.
8 years on from the creation of Etcetera and now managed by The Bridge Youth & Family Services, the need for safe space for Kelowna’s self-titled “Glitter Critters” is as urgent as ever. A Way Home Canada estimates that 40% of Canada’s homeless youth are 2SLGBTQIA+. Researchers from UBCs Stigma and Resilience Among Vulnerable Youth Centre have found that 75% of trans youth study participants in BC reported self-harming behaviours, and 1 in 3 trans youth in the study had attempted suicide in the previous year. Gay and Lesbian youth are 2-3x more likely to report self-harming behaviours. These statistics are a small sample of an ever-growing body of evidence that 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are struggling in BC, and need specific types of support in order to have a chance at thriving: safe spaces, safe adults, and access to mental and physical health care are just a few of those needs.
As the only local youth group of its kind and funded solely through grants and donations, Etcetera has served hundreds of youth between the ages of 11-18 during its time in operation. Many changes have happened in these years – staff and volunteer facilitators, locations, age ranges served - but our core mission of access to safe space and safe adults remains steadfast. We also connect caregivers and other supportive adults to information and networking opportunities, participate actively in community Pride initiatives, and foster opportunities for the community to get involved with Etcetera. We are thankful for the many people who choose to show their Pride by serving on our advisory committee, raising funds, volunteering, planning events, and donating.
Etcetera is thrilled to be back to meeting in person now that COVID restrictions have relaxed. Currently, we meet:
For more information, call 250-736-0456 or email email@example.com or visit https://www.thebridgeservices.ca/youth-services/etcetera
Donate directly to the Etcetera Youth Program