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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 14, 2011 - Volume 39 Issue 02
Community makes Tree of Life fundraiser a success
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Community makes Tree of Life fundraiser a success

SGN and participating bars raise money for YSPP

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

During the month of December, the Seattle Gay News in conjunction with the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP) conducted a fundraising program, the Tree of Life, to raise money to further assist YSPP in their critical role of preventing LGBT teen suicide. The program was installed at 10 participating Capitol Hill (and some off-the-Hill) bars, restaurants, and businesses.

Seattle Gay News is pleased to report that the community response to the Tree of Life program was tremendous, and the fundraising effort raised over $5,000!

The top three fundraisers were Lady Chablis of R Place with $1,650; Mike Roney of the Comet Tavern with $677; and Dan of The Cuff with $675.

Participating businesses included Attic, Comet Tavern, The Cuff, Deluxe Bar & Grill, Elite, Hopvine, Moe Bar, Neighbours, Purr, and R Place.

Throughout the course of the business day, participating locations solicited customers to purchase a paper Tree of Life. The green trees were $1 and the gold trees were $5 or more. Whenever a customer purchased a Tree of Life, they were permitted to write their name on it and the tree was displayed in the establishment throughout the month of December.

Each week, a dedicated representative stopped by to collect the week's donations, and the supply of trees was replenished. The community showed a great deal of support, with many bar and restaurant patrons purchasing more than one Tree of Life.

The below statistics - gathered in 2009 - are a testament of the critical ongoing need to further reach out to LGBT youth to prevent future tragedies.

o 84.6% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 40.1% reported being physically harassed, and 18.8% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.

o 63.7% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed, 27.2% reported being physically harassed, and 12.5% reported being physically assaulted at school in the past year because of their gender expression.

o 72.4% heard homophobic remarks, such as 'faggot' or 'dyke,' frequently or often at school.

o 61.1% reported that they felt unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation, and 39.9% felt unsafe because of their gender expression.

o 29.1% of LGBT students missed a class at least once, and 30% missed at least one day of school in the past month because of safety concerns, compared to only 8% and 6.7%, respectively, of a national sample of secondary school students.

The money raised will go directly to YSPP so they can continue to save lives of LGBTQ teens.

'The Youth Suicide Prevention Program is humbled and amazed at the support provided to our organization and, specifically, to the OUTLoud Project during the Tree of Life campaign,' said Heather Carter, OUTLoud project manager. 'It truly feels incredible to see the community come together to support our work to lower suicide rates among LGBTQ youth and to address the issues of bullying and bias-based harassment and the negative mental health outcomes those experiences have on the targets, the bullies, and the bystanders.'

'This money couldn't come at a better time for our organization and for this project,' she said. 'The money will go to support the project manager's position and the programs offered through OUTLoud. Without these dollars, YSPP would be looking at reducing services provided through this project.'

Great job, LGBT Seattle!

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top: Lady Chablis of R Place
bottom: Mike Romey of Comet Tavern
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