LEAVE YOUR MISCONCEPTIONS AT THE DOOR
I used my first gender-neutral restroom recently. I don’t mean I waited in a long line to use the single stall at Starbucks. No, this was a legit gender-neutral bathroom, with multiple stalls and sinks. And what made it real was a the sign on the door.
Funny thing is, I suddenly felt validated as simply human walking through that door. I thought about how many times I’d wanted to dart into an empty “men’s” room while waiting in a winding bathroom line at a theater or concert venue. “What difference does it make,” I’d thought. “Who cares?” But here I didn’t have to face a universal symbol that labeled me, either correctly or incorrectly. That night, I got to be just me. And so did the other people who used that restroom. I sensed the inclusive oneness of a not-too-distant future where, amid both signage and each other, we’re all seen as humans first.
THE STATE OF LGBTQ YOUTH
The first logo on the sign above – State of OUT Youth: A Town Hall – is the name of the second annual forum with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth from across the country talking about the most pressing issues facing them today.
This forward-thinking discussion among the panel of young advocates, activists and promising educators was streamed online from lower Manhattan, and the recording was posted online so you can watch it and share it here.
These startling stats were screened to open the forum:
• More than ½ of LGBT youth say they are out to their immediate family. One-quarter are out to their extended family.
• 63% of LGBT youth say they will need to move to another part of the country to feel accepted.
• LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.
• 81.9% of LGBT students reported being verbally harassed at school in the past year because of their sexual orientation.
• 33% of LGBT youth say their family is not accepting of LGBT people.
• Family rejection is the most frequently cited reason for LGBT youth homelessness.
And when LGBT youth were asked, “What is the most difficult problem facing you in your life these days?” these were the top 3 answers:
1) My parents/family not accepting
2) Trouble at school/bullying
3) Afraid to be out/open
Despite the adversity faced by the seven smart, strong and confident panelists, here are some comments I jotted down that demonstrate how hopeful the future is for all LGBTQ youth.
“We need to create a more broad and more real narrative of what it means to be LGBTQ.” ~Charlie Kerr
“Out there is a clear line between tolerance and acceptance. Until we recognize that, the ball is in our community’s court.” ~Anthony Nadeau
“Think critically, think intersectionality, and think about how to help people.” ~Danilo Machado
“Encourage people to think about how they perceive identity.” ~Giovanni Mckenzie
“Never feel bad about explaining, because the more people know, the less you have to explain. And never doubt you’ll be able to find someone to connect with your story.” ~Ziggy Keyes
I hope you’ll have a chance to check out the video of the Out Youth Forum. No matter where you start or finish on the recording, I have a feeling you’ll learn something from these kids, these role models for humanity. I know I did.
Props to moderator Shontay Richardson, a panelist at last year’s Forum, for leading such stimulating conversation. And many thanks to the True Colors Fund, The Trevor Project, Lambda Legal, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation, and GLSEN for collaborating to make the 2014 Out Youth Form a reality.
A RECESS IN THE SUPREME COURT OF HALLOWEEN
I’m sorry to report that my son Harry never did get a chance to don their costume as a sexy Ruth Bader Ginsburg as promised in last week’s post. Turns out they ended up winning the costume contest hosted by a celebrity Spiderman Thursday night and stayed out well into Friday morning. So the night of Hallows’ Eve was deemed a mistrial.
But they were back strong on Halloween as Pink Flamingos character Connie Marble. Harry promises me that RBG will make an appearance at some point. And there will be photos!
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