Break The Silence!

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be a consultant to a group started by Jeremy Steffan Edwards and comprised of young people who, spurred by yet another teen suicide in Trinidad and countless others around the world, decided that enough was enough and that they would make a difference. Sitting in that first meeting held at a conference table at the University of the West Indies I looked at the young faces and listened to them emphatically stating that young people being driven to despair because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning  was not acceptable and I can’t really describe how proud I felt and how full of hope for the future.

Out of a series of meetings the George Kasanjian Foundation which later became The Silver Lining Foundation was born.  Driven by some of the most passionate young people I have met in recent years the group has finally crafted its mission statement and vision statement.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Silver Lining Foundation is committed to facilitating safe access to the relevant psychological, sexual, medical, recreational and media resources necessary to educate, equip and empower youth to deal with difficulties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

VISION STATEMENT

To create an environment conducive to respect and self acceptance, and to provide a support system for marginalized youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, leading to a sustainable and functional Life.

It has also embarked on a project that will be a first for T&T – a Day of Silence which will be  observed on Friday. Those participating will tape their mouths and hand out cards to others on campus explaining the purpose of the group. The Trinidad Guardian published an excellent article on the day here.

This might seem like a small act to achieve a very big change – and it is – but it is a start and it will mark  a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ kids to be given the dignity and respect that they deserve as equal human beings. This is also being done in a country in the English speaking Caribbean – not normally viewed as an especially tolerant environment for such vulnerable kids. In practice T&T is nowhere as unwelcoming as say Jamaica but there are still discriminatory ( though rarely enforced) rules on the books and LGBT people face discrimination on a daily basis simply because of who they are.

2012 will go down as an interesting year for us with this inspiring project by The Silver Lining Foundation and by CAISO  which has embarked on a series of  weekly meetings to push equality onto the national agenda ( I am on the – wait for it – Media Committee).  This could be the start of something really good.

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