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Curious youth can now text their questions

Tue 17 Mar 2009 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Young people across the country who are puzzled about their sexuality or gender can now send in their questions via text message and receive a personalised response within 48 hours. Curious TXT is a new mobile phone service which aims to give students the information they need to feel comfortable about their emerging sexuality or gender identity, particularly students who are coming to terms with the realisation they are gay, lesbian, bisexual, takatāpui or transgender. "Students often don't feel safe talking about sexuality and gender issues with their peers or teachers, because they fear becoming a target for homophobic or transphobic abuse," explains Laressa Donaldson, the Out There! Youth Worker who is spearheading the new initiative. "Curious TXT provides support that could make all the difference in a hostile environment." The new service takes advantage of the relationship young people have with technology, adds Donaldson. "Otherwise isolated young people can feel more connected regardless of their circumstances or location. They're on cell phones, computers ipods, so we felt there was a need for a service for youth that was going to capture their interest by utilising the technology that they enjoy using." Donaldson anticipates that some of the most frequently asked questions will be about being attracted to the same sex, coming out, sexual health, gender identity, accessing support, meeting others, and responses to homophobia and transphobia. A 2003 study conducted by the University of Otago found only 5% of students and 7% of staff from over 100 high schools believed gay, lesbian or bisexual students would feel safe at their schools. This finding was backed by a damning ERO review of sexuality education in secondary schools in 2007 which found that only 20% of schools gave students the opportunity to explore issues such as homophobia, acceptance, and diversity. Curious TXT is an initiative by Out There!, a joint national youth development programme of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Youth, and OUTLine NZ who offer an 0800 support line service which is staffed by trained and experienced volunteers. OUTLine NZ will respond to the messages received within 48 hours and Out There! will promote the Curious TXT service to young people. To contact Curious TXT, send the word 'curious', then a space followed by any question in the body of a text message to the number 3535. Texts cost 20 cents. You can also receive regular updates from Curious TXT by texting 'join_curious' to 3535.    

Credit: GayNZ.com Daily News Staff

First published: Tuesday, 17th March 2009 - 1:21pm

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