GSAFE is better learning and understanding the need to create culturally specific spaces for LGBTQ youth of color and youth of color allies. Too often within the mainstream LGBTQ community, communities of color are wrongfully dubbed as being more trans/bi/homophobic than their white counterparts. As a result, mainstream spaces provide few opportunities to support and develop allies of color and LGBTQ youth of color often go without valuable resources. In our work, we have learned the invaluable lesson of intentionally supporting communities of color to develop their own culturally specific context to address trans/bi/homophobia and realize LGBTQ justice.
On February 18th GSAFE partnered with Freedom, Inc. to host a day-long Youth of Color Summit to do just that – to create a space for LGBTQ youth of color and youth of color allies to discuss what LGBTQ identities look like in their communities, identify the issues, and discuss ways to build! The summit had 15 young people of Black, Latin@, Southeast Asian and Indigenous heritage.
Youth used theater, games, and dialogue to critically engage topics such as: gender and sexuality expectations and cultural norms; intersections of race, class and sexuality; the impact of poverty, violence, prisons, immigration etc… in the LGBTQ experience. Youth also discussed and learned ways that their communities are resilient and resistant, as well as the rights and protections that they have in schools.
GSAFE is striving to become an anti-racist organization, which includes the staff, board and volunteers learning more about racism; creating policies, practices and programming that is inclusive of the needs of youth of color; and teaching white youth, educators, and parents anti-racist leadership skills. Creating and supporting safe spaces for LGBTQ youth of color, and youth of color allies, is an integral part of this. GSAFE is looking forward to continuing the work of creating safe schools for all youth and we look forward to continuing with you!