November 14, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 43  

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Queer youth missing out

No one can deny that since the introduction of Queerline in Jan. 2002, queer youth on campus have had their needs better served by the University Students' Council.

The telephone support line has made inroads in alleviating the often difficult and intensely personal dilemmas many queer youth find themselves in, especially on a campus environment and within a broader society that has still not come full circle in tolerating and understanding homosexuals.

But the revelation that the co-ordinators of the service have fallen behind schedule in promoting the line to the London community is disappointing.

The funding proposal submitted to the City of London specifically listed Sep. 2003 as the date by which Queerline would be launched city-wide. This was not an arbitrary decision; city officials approved the proposal and provided funds with the understanding the line would soon be serving the needs of London's young queer population.

Indeed, the proposal acknowledges this pressing need and the city's deficiency in dealing with the problem, saying "London's queer youths are not finding support in traditional community structures, and London lacks alternative sets of service that are specifically directed at queer youth."

It goes on to say that "a lack of support has had and will continue to have serious ramifications [sic] for queer youths in the City of London." This realization must be attended to with the utmost expediency.

A case of Western-centrism seems to have befallen the co-ordinators of the service, so it is up to them to prove naysayers wrong by accelerating efforts to usher in a new standard of support for London's queer youth. It is highly doubtful the problem stems from a lack of funds - $14,000 should go a long way (so far, in fact, we are tempted to question why so much cash is targeted at a service aimed at such a small percentage of the population).

Of course, complications can always threaten any plan and Queerline is no exception.

Allegations the Thames Valley District School Board is stalling on embracing the service are indeed troubling. It is the institution that stands to gain the most from an expanded Queerline and is clearly identified by the funding proposal as a primary promotional target.

Queer youth within the public school board deserve more from their principals and superintendents, and the newly-elected trustees should take notice and action immediately. Those who are impeding the progress of Queerline on ideological lines are doing a grave disservice to queer youth and their allies. They are perpetuating the climate of isolation afflicting too many gay students.

It is clear Queerline must deliver on its promise. Queer youth in the London community are waiting.



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