Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services

Anna Burn

Teacher, Diversity Consultant
Edmonton Public School Board

When Anna first started working with iSMSS five years ago, the phrase “that’s so gay” was used seemingly in every second sentence by students, and sometimes even teachers. With guidance from iSMSS, Gay Straight Alliance groups have been formed at high schools across the city, and derogatory and homophobic language is now heard significantly less often in the halls. Students have been made aware of the impact of their words on each other.

“Not only students, but teachers and staff have been so supportive of the GSA program. When all the schools connect, it really helps youth realize there is a wider network in the community than just their school. While they may be tentative during the first year of program implementation, I’ve noticed a huge change in the confidence of students identifying as LGBTQ and even the allies that join to support them. Schools that embrace outreach and programs for SGM youth are giving students a place to be themselves.”

Anna’s role as a Diversity Consultant wouldn’t have happened without iSMSS bringing outreach and research into the school system and shining the light on the growing need for supporting youth who are identifying as SGM earlier than ever before.