This post is the second in a series covering the learning exchanges being held across the country between LGBTQ, racial justice, and educational justice youth organizations with funding from the Just and Fair Schols Fund. Read the first post from Missouri GSA Network here!
Last month, I had the opportunity to join a conversation already in progress. FIERCE, the Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), the Alliance for Educational Justice and folks from the Brown Boi Project joined GSA Network in Oakland, California for three days to begin a national dialogue around movement building and social and economic justice for queer and trans youth of color. The experience was like no other; it was empowering, educational and exciting.
On the first day, the participants had deep conversations about their organizations, the work we do and why and how we do it, and the lack of visibility for our communities as people of color and especially as queer youth. We had time to build community, understanding and solidarity between our organizations. Then we turned to talking about the many issues facing our communities.
Through our deep analysis of the issues that are affecting our communities we came to the conclusion that these conversations have to continue on a national level in a way that puts youth on the front lines– in decision-making positions where we lead and shape the way in which the LGBTQ movement addresses the issues that are affecting young people of color. We envisioned the creation of these round table discussions in which youth leaders could be empowered to organize and take actions that affect local, state and national policy while deepening the LGBTQ community’s understanding of intersectionality. Through the collaboration of these organizations we’ll focus on the mobilization of youth and emphasize the importance of raising the visibility of queer and trans youth of color within the LGBTQ movement. Finally, we discussed how we could further engage our organizations’ alumni and create a leadership pipeline. It was inspiring to be around folks who are truly passionate, strategic and intentional about creating social and economic justice for queer and trans youth of color.
I am excited to see what’s to come as we continue to develop plans for these national conversations. As we pull our resources, knowledge and experiences together we’ll create a stronger base for real change and we’ll produce stronger relationships with organizations that support each other’s work, which will essentially benefit our communities.
It is time to take space, queer and trans youth of color! It is time for our voices and our stories to be heard!
Mario Vasquez is the Vice-Chair of GSA Network's Board of Directors.