GayCalgary® Magazine [copy]

Calgary Mother Pushes Acceptance Campaign

Community by Evan Kayne (From GayCalgary® Magazine, September 2011, page 47)
Calgary Mother Pushes Acceptance Campaign
Calgary Mother Pushes Acceptance Campaign
Calgary Mother Pushes Acceptance Campaign

We all need to be loved and accepted exactly for who we are. The GLBTQ community has been pushing this message for years to the point it is becoming mainstream in society. However, due to various incidents on Calgary Transit, one Calgary mother decided everyone needed a refresher course.

Gail (last name withheld to protect her daughter’s identity) put together the "Acceptance" Campaign –  which is hoped will help reduce incidents of homophobic hate on public transit. The campaign will be running on various Pattison Sign Group’s electronic billboards throughout September. As well, with donations to Calgary Outink, we may be able to see an entire C-train compartment plastered with Acceptance posters.

The inspiration for this campaign came from Gail’s daughter, who attends both youth groups here in Calgary (Mosaic – part of the Miscellaneous Youth Network and Calgary Outlink’s own group Inside Out). She has told her mother various stories about incidents on public transit. "Two of her friends - on two different occasions - were beaten up on the train." This was on the C-train as they were on their way to or from school, and in one instance, a young man had to go to the hospital for stitches.

Additionally, Gail’s daughter has experienced other passengers on Calgary Transit voicing homophobic comments. "That was the start of it. I realized none of them...could complain, and who would they complain to? The majority of them at that age are half out" – whether they be out to friends only, family only, or some variation thereof.

Gail did ask Calgary Transit about this and they told her the youth needs to report this to the police. What they didn’t understand is, given the above degree of "outness", the youth may not want to go to the authorities and make (to their perception) a public statement.

"Then I thought...wouldn’t it be nice if we had some posters talking about these issues?" It grew from there. As Lynne Hood, Vice President of Calgary Outlink explains it, this past Spring Gail emailed her. She then brought the Acceptance Campaign proposal to the Board of Directors meeting where it was accepted. "Gail proceeded with Outlink’s full support and confidence," confirmed Lynne.

From there, two youth groups - InsideOut and Miscellaneous Youth/Mosaic – discussed and voted on what they thought were the best slogans. A welcome suggestion from this youth focus group was that there needed to be awareness and support for the transgender community.

The campaign consists of two parts. Pattison Outdoor has contributed time on their digital outdoor signs located throughout Calgary (e.g. 9th & 16th Ave SW, Macleod & 24th Ave SW, Heritage & Macleod). "Pattison Outdoor is donating...I think it’s about $3000 worth of free outdoor advertising," Gail explained. The ads will appear in rotation with the other electronic ads at digital billboards across Calgary for the month of September.

The second part comes courtesy of Outlink and more assistance from Pattison, Gail tells us. "Pattison has also agreed to have us do a buy one have one free poster. So we have some money coming in from Outlink for posters." These posters will go inside the train compartments. While Calgary Outlink has purchased some posters, they are still looking at getting donations to allow them to purchase more.

The four messages approved and in rotation on the billboards and displayed on the posters are the following: Stop Homophobia; Respect Diversity; Straight Against H8; and Support Transgender Rights.

"We thought those four were our strongest messages, and the most respectful for everyone...and really basically we’re talking about acceptance – let’s accept everyone and let’s accept how wonderfully different we all are," stated Gail.

An additional spillover from the billboards and posters is that they may also reach some of the parents of the teens – and not just those parents of the teens in attendance at Mosiac and Inside Out.  Gail agrees this is a great bonus: "It’s educating parents as well as educating the other kids in school, because sometimes the parents need as much education."

Help make this campaign larger. Whether it be the parents, other kids or just the general public, "Acceptance" and freedom from hate is something we all want. Individuals, groups and businesses are invited to donate to Calgary Outlink to help buy more posters for the Acceptance Campaign running this month.(GC)

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