Institute for Sexual Minority Studies & Services

fYrefly in Schools

fYrefly in Schools is an iSMSS educational initiative developed to help reduce discrimination against sexual and gender minority youth, increase awareness of the impacts of homo/bi/transphobia, and equip students with the tools they need to become effective allies for diversity, equity, and human rights within their schools and communities.

Session Goals

  • Explore and engage with LGBTQ+ terminology
  • Identify and analyze the effects of homophobic language
  • Debunk myths and stereotypes about LGBTQ people
  • Identify ways to act as an ‘ally’ [in support of LGBTQ people and their rights]

FYrefly in schools – know your rights!

Bill 10 is “an act to amend the Alberta Bill of Rights to Protect our Children.” Specifically, section 11.1.2 is amended to read “(3) This section (parental notification) does not apply to incidental or indirect references to religion, religious themes, human sexuality or sexual orientation in a course of study, educational program, instruction or exercises or in the use of instructional materials.”

Bill 10’s ascension paved the way for fYrefly in Schools to participate in classroom contexts as a Human Rights program. As a Human Rights program, fYrefly in Schools is exempt from any obligation to parental notification. Here is how we navigate the complexities of this conversation and how we train our Educators:

Educators and volunteer panelists know that they are not to delve into sexual health questions during sessions. It is possible that they may discuss attraction, or who they may enter into relationships, or partnerships with. (this is protected under the human rights act and removed from 11.1). There could also be discussion around asexuality, in that those who identify this way may not experience sexual/physical attraction.

Each session ends with a question period, where there is open discussion based on what the audience wishes to know more about. We have a question box students can submit to, so they can ask anonymously. It is important to note that we may not get to every question, and that sometimes questions will be omitted entirely if it is too personal, disrespectful to our volunteers or panelists, or goes beyond what is permitted as a point of discussion.

If questions come up that are omitted we will:

  • Model a person's right to pass from answering invasive questions about their bodies
  • Direct students to the community resources, such as those available on the fYrefly website
  • Encourage them to seek out good, scientifically accurate information from trusted adults/teachers.

  • What are some other goals of the fYrefly in Schools program?

    A key component of all fYrefly in Schools presentations is providing students with the opportunity to hear firsthand from a panel of peers who are sexual or gender minorities, self- identified allies who support sexual and gender minorities, and/or youth that have a family member who identifies as non-heterosexual. Along with providing a safe place for students to ask age-appropriate questions, the program’s activities enable students to learn from their peers about (1) the coming out experience and processes of self and familial acceptance; (2) consequences of homophobic and/or transphobic bullying and guidelines to promote safety and wellbeing; and (3) positive aspects about “being who they are” in the world and the importance of recognizing diversity and difference as fundamental aspects of our society.

    For further information, please contact:

    fYrefly in Schools
    C/O Camp fYrefly
    Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services
    7-104 Education North Building
    Faculty of Education | University of Alberta
    Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA | T6G 2G5

  • What is fYrefly in Schools?

    fYrefly in Schools is a new educational initiative developed to help reduce discrimination against sexual and gender minority youth, increase awareness of the impacts of homophobia and transphobia, and create safe and inclusive school environments for all students. The program is free and reflects the focus on safety stated in Section 45 of the provincial School Act. This requires all students in Alberta’s schools to be provided with a safe and caring environment where they do not experience discrimination based on personal characteristics including sexual orientation and gender identity. fYrefly in Schools is delivered to schools on a request basis, as resources of the Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services permit. Designed for junior and senior high school students, fYrefly in Schools workshops are student- centred and activity-based to focus on personal and social development and comprehensive health. Workshops follow the peer-to-peer mentorship model of our award-winning summer leadership retreat, Camp fYrefly.

  • Who facilitates fYrefly in Schools workshops and how are they structured?

    Trained and experienced educators facilitate fYrefly in Schools workshops, which range from 40 – 80 minutes in length. Each session consists of a number of targeted activities that address the following themes: Awareness, De-stigmatization, Humanization, and Empowerment. Through a series of student-centred activities, these interactive workshops are designed to increase students’ understanding of LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) related terminology, engage with common assumptions and stereotypes, and address some of the unique safety, health, and educational challenges that sexual and gender minorities face in schools. Specifically, these sessions provide participants with a safe learning environment to reflect upon the impacts of homophobic and transphobic language and bullying. Students are encouraged to be proactive and construct positive and productive ways to reduce discrimination and harassment of sexual and gender minority youth and those perceived to be LGBTQ by their peers.