A QR code-powered campaign to fight LGBTQ discrimination

Who: The Get Real Movement, a youth-focused non-profit that fights LGBTQ discrimination, and Toronto agency Union.

What: “LGBTQr Code,” a campaign to help Ontario LGBTQ+ students feel safe in their schools at a time when the provincial government has taken steps to remove or reduce LGBTQ+ education from school curricula.

How: QR codes on T-shirts, pins and stickers that link to a microsite containing information about LGBTQ+ terminology and answers to questions like “Is being gay a choice?” “How can I deal with bullying at school that stems from my identity?” and “When is the right time to come out?” The T-shirts are being sold online at WeGetReal.ca for $35.

When & Where: The campaign kicked off Tuesday with a workshop at École secondaire Toronto Ouest, but awareness is expected to increase as the T-shirts, stickers and pins spread out into the community.

Any media? There’s some paid digital and influencer outreach, along with strong PR outreach that saw the T-shirts receive some good mainstream press coverage Tuesday (Tory Crowder handled PR), but this is largely about students spreading the word among other students.

Why: After winning the provincial election, the PC government repealed a 2015 sex education curriculum that addressed same-sex relationships and gender identity. Get Real says that if the government won’t support efforts to educate students about inclusivity and discrimination, it wants to help students teach themselves about these important issues. “This year, the government has questioned the validity of supporting LGBTQ+ students in Ontario, many of whom are already facing bullying and a lack of acceptance,” said Chris Studer, executive director and founder of Get Real.

And why a QR code: “We looked at a variety of tech options as a delivery mechanism,” said Union president Subtej Nijjar. “But QR codes provided the easiest utility for everyone on both Android and iPhone to connect with the content.” Aside from the utility aspect, the QR code also presents as a fashion statement that is “a bit more likely to be shared and used by students,” he said.

Quote: “The LGBTQr Code effectively turns students into teaching tools. The goal of the campaign is to encourage more kids to talk about LGBTQ+ issues and to provide a resource for kids looking for help.” —Adam Thur, creative director at Union.



David Brown