Institute for Sexual Minority Studies and Services's profile


7-104 Education North Building
Faculty of Education, University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6G 2G5

Phn: (780) 492-0772 Fax: (780) 492-2024

iSMSS is an interdisciplinary “hub” for scholarly work in sexual-minority studies. The Institute is housed in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. More broadly, the Institute's mission is to help enhance possibilities for groundbreaking research, policy development, education, community outreach, and service provision focused on sexual minorities and their issues and concerns. Sexual minorities are those persons who constitute a minority population due to differences in their sexual orientations and/or gender identities. Groups characterized as sexual minorities across sex, sexual, and gender differences include lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transsexuals, intersexuals, transgendered, and Two-Spirit Aboriginals. Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects sexual minorities against discrimination in Canadian culture and society.

Since most Canadian universities engaged in sexual-minority work tend to separate studies functions (teaching and research) from service functions, iSMSS represents a unique and holistic Canadian model placing sexual-minority inclusive studies and services in a dynamic, interdependent relationship. By housing research, teaching, institutional service, and community outreach under one umbrella within a university setting, the Institute combines its studies and services functions within a reciprocity that fosters innovative intellectual work and sustained outreach. A major studies function of the Institute is to conduct research on sexual-minority differences in education, culture, and society.

A major service function of the Institute is to support the needs and concerns of sexual-minority students at the University of Alberta as well as sexual-minority youth in the larger community. In this regard, iSMSS runs Camp fYrefly, which is the Institute’s key award-winning community service project. Camp fYrefly is a personal, social, and cultural learning retreat for sexual-minority youth. It uses an arts-informed, community-based approach to education to help youth focus on building and nurturing their personal resiliency and leadership potential within an environment that fosters individual development and socialization. The goal is to help youth learn how to make significant contributions to their own lives and to their schools, home/group-home environments, and communities.

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Post Secondary
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