The ReachOUT program at Griffin Centre, founded in 2005, provides a range of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, two-spirit and encompassing queer communities across the GTA.
Their programs and services include LGBTQ-specific settlement services for newcomers; LGBTQ positive counselling services for youth and youth who have been labelled with a developmental disability, dual diagnosis and/or intellectual disability; and outreach, community events, workshops and retreats for LGBTQ youth, newcomer youth, and youth who have been labelled with disabilities.
The program also offers training and consultation to service providers. The settlement services sector in the GTA has faced challenges in responding to LGBTQ newcomer youth in ways that respect their specific experiences. To address these gaps in service, ReachOUT developed the ReachOUT Newcomer Network (RNN) in 2009; a program that supports LGBTQ youth and adults who are government-assisted refugees, convention refugees or permanent residents.
Similarly, disability services and LGBTQ services in the GTA have faced difficulties in responding to the lived experiences of LGBTQ individuals who have been labelled with a developmental disability, dual diagnosis and/or intellectual disability. ReachOUT is one of the few existing programs in North America which provides LGBTQ and disability-specific programs and services.
Their weekly drop-in, called COMPASS, is an LGBTQ drop-in for youth labelled with intellectual disabilities. Support services recognize the unique needs and intersecting oppressions these communities face, including multiple intersecting oppressions based on race, disability, poverty, sexual and/or gender identity/expression. They offer a wide array of supports to these youth addressing intersecting issues to foster safer spaces and resistance among youth labelled with intellectual disabilities and their allies. Many of the team members at ReachOUT are LGBTQ-identified, with lived experience as newcomer youth, and/or lived experience of disability. ReachOUT thrives on community collaboration and partnerships and they are consistently building collaborative relationships throughout multiple sectors to improve our service provision.