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Introducing Rainbowyouth’s I’m Local Project

Introducing Rainbowyouth’s I’m Local Project

With an aim to combat homophobia and transphobia in rural areas of New Zealand, RainbowYOUTH, would like to introduce the “I’m Local” project.

RainbowYOUTH has been providing support, education, and advocacy for LGBTIQ youth and their friends, families, and whanau for over 25 years, with their services mostly contained in the Auckland area due to budget constraints. With the help of funding from the U.S Embassy, the Waitemata Local Board and the ANZ Staff Foundation, RainbowYOUTH is able to expand their focus to other regions.

One of the main focuses of this goal is the “I’m Local” project, which aims to reach out to youth in more rural areas of New Zealand who may be struggling to come to terms with their gender identity or sexual orientation. The personal experiences of those LGBTIQ people who have grown up in rural areas have made it abundantly clear that these places are severely lacking in support, education and visibility for their LGBTIQ community members.

With this in mind, the “I’m Local” project is contacting organisations where these rural youth may spend their time, such as schools, libraries, medical centres and marae, offering to provide these places with free information, resources and posters to be displayed.

The purpose of the material is to raise awareness of sexuality and gender diversity in rural communities, to provide accessible, factual and affirming guidance on sexuality and gender diversity, and to direct locals to explore the video testimonials from other queer and trans* rural people via the “I’m Local” YouTube campaign.

Toni Duder, Communications Manager at RainbowYOUTH and coordinator of the “I’m Local” project, says that the project came about after reflecting on her own experiences growing up as a lesbian in the small Northland town of Dargaville.

“I remember I had no clue what my feelings were or how to deal with them until I went to boarding school in Auckland. My mum and I often reflect that I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t of gone to Auckland. It’s tough for someone growing up different in small, rural communities.”

The “I’m Local” project celebrated its official launch during Youth Week on the 21st May (supported by Ara Taiohi) at Kamo High School in Whangarei, with resources being set out to other participating organisations around the same time.

“It’s really exciting for this to be actually happening,” says Toni. “Because of limited funding, we’ll be trailing it in Northland to see how it goes and hopefully with more support and granting of funds, we’ll be able to extend the project throughout the rest of the country.”

For more information about the “I’m Local” project, you can visit www.imlocal.co.nz.


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