Celebrating 20 Years of Support

Posted on May 1, 2014

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LGBT Youth Line needs community and businesses to keep the 20-year old agency thriving.

In 1994, a determined group of youth founders and adult allies established the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line (LGBT Youth Line) in Toronto, a precedent setting grassroots organization that offered support and training to confront social barriers and empower youth leadership. Today, LGBT Youth Line’s peer-to-peer support model continues this important community service as its representatives work to expand the organization’s services and reach while tackling funding needs.

A series of retrospective events are planned to celebrate its achievements to date, and raise awareness and funds to enable initiatives to continue growing. One such project will be an online 20th anniversary campaign, 20FOR20, which seeks to raise $30,000 for a new server that is urgently needed to improve the organisation’s youth peer support services. This capital campaign will be launched this Summer showcasing a diverse array of digital stories from community members. Their personal stories focus on the LGBT Youth Line’s impact over the past 20 years and the continuing need to support Ontario’s LGBT youth in the fight against homophobia and transphobia.

When the LGBT Youth Line first started, its programs included phone line support and referral services to youth across Ontario. It’s also one of the few agencies with a mandated youth for youth model, meaning both the service’s users and those trained to provide support fall within the youth category. The bylaws also require that at least 50 per cent of its board of directors be between 18 and 27 years old.

In May 2009 the helpline expanded to include online and SMS text support. This month the organisation launches a website redesigned by Pilot Interactive, which adds a mapping function to its provincial referrals database. Plans are underway to utilize social media and partnering opportunities to open further channels to reach youth in need across the province.

For many years, LGBT Youth Line has been the front-runner within LGBTQ youth communities. It held the first annual community Youth Awards Banquet in 1996, and received the 2003 Pride Award for Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Transsexual Two Spirited Issues, as well as the 2012 Now Magazine Best of Toronto Readers’ Picks for Best Youth Organization. In 2001, Kyle Scanlon became its Executive Director, and the first trans man ever to hold that position in a queer agency. Under his leadership, the organisation changed its name in 2005 name to the Lesbian Gay Bi Trans Youth Line to reflect trans communities’ involvement in the organisation.

Representatives are hoping that this track record of success and the resiliency of the agency’s volunteers will help increase core funding and sponsor support from individuals and the private sector. Anyone interested in learning more is welcome to contact the current executive director, Gitanjali Lena at, or by phone at 416-962-2232 ext. 224. Information on programs and ways to donate is available on the organization’s web site at