Pride fund launched to provide bursaries to LGBTQ2S+ students in Edmonton, Northern Alberta

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The Edmonton Community Foundation has a new bursary aiming to reduce financial barriers for LGBTQ2S+ post-secondary students in Edmonton and Northern Alberta.

University of Alberta graduate Shane Scott launched the Shane Scott Pride Fund last week at the beginning of Pride Month. Scott hopes to raise at least $10,000 in order to set up an annual bursary of $400 to help alleviate some student debt.

He said having a scholarship program dedicated to queer youth recognizes the experiences and difficulties they face.

“To have these types of awards in the community is a signal, I think for many people, that your experiences are valid and real, and that they do matter,” he said.

A 2018 poll from Forum Research found LGBTQS+ students are more likely to have higher student debt on graduation, take on a second job to pay off their debt, change their career path because of student debt, and have higher additional debt.

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Scott said there’s a few reasons why this could be.

“Similar to my story — feeling the need to leave home. For me that was a journey of self discovery, but for some people that’s a choice of safety, or they’re being kicked out of their home either while they’re still in high school or when they’re going to university,” he said in an interview.

“Often that also means they’re losing financial support from the families, don’t have the safety net that other students may have, and so they end up taking on more debt … also credit card debt, and having to rely on less-than-ideal financing sources.”

On top of these difficulties, there’s discrimination and bullying, which can harm their mental health and impact job searches after their school is complete.

“The community, it’s not homogenous. And I think there’s also other barriers, including racism, ongoing settler (colonialism), transphobia — that has kind of further implications. Particularly when it comes to experience trying to get work,” he said.

Multiple bursaries, or a higher amount for a single award, can be given out if more funds are raised.

To qualify for the Shane Scott Pride Awards, students need to self-identify as an LGBTQ2S+ person, be planning on or currently attending a post-secondary institution in Canada, be an active member in the community and show financial need.

Preference will be given to youth involved in student government or advocacy and who have overcome adversity.

June is Pride Month in Canada.

lboothby@postmedia.com

@laurby

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