On April 27 Paulette and Pat attended the Youth Speaking Up Forum on professional care for LQBTQ2+ youth at Lakehead University in Orillia. It was sponsored by the Gilbert Centre and topics included healthcare, school, housing, families, mental health and employment. The information was excellent and the speakers were knowledgeable and dynamic. One of the organizers is Nelson Morgan and I asked if they would provide some thoughts….
My name is Nelson Morgan. I am 17, Autistic and Queer. I use the pronouns they/them/theirs. My two biggest special interests are writing and activism. I advocate for many issues, but the two that impact me the most are Disability rights and LGBTQ2 rights.
I am very proud that I am able to combine my interests in writing and activism through my work at the Gilbert Centre. The Gilbert Centre works to serve the LGBTQ2 community of Simcoe Country through offering many different programs and services. Among other roles there, I am personally a part of the Youth Board which runs events and programs by and for LGBTQ2 youth - most recently, a Youth Speaking Up! Forum.
The Forum was a one day conference aimed at LGBTQ2 youth and service providers who worked with them, to educate about current issues facing LGBTQ2 youth and how providers can build safer spaces for them. Topics covered included Education, Medical Care, Mental Health, Housing, Work, and Families.
My role in the Forum was that of a primary speaker - I spoke with a co-host about Education and Medical Care - and of a session leader, where I and a co-facilitator lead a discussion about the morning’s speeches and brainstormed with participants about how they could make their places of work more LGBTQ2 friendly.
As our first Forum, I felt that it went pretty well. We were on a tight time crunch to produce the event, and therefore were not able to reach as many participants as we may have otherwise liked to, but we had a decent turn out. I hope that this is an event the Youth Board is able to repeat again in later years, and I expect that will see a larger amount of participants.
The message that the Forum was attempting to instill was really one word: Respect. Respect is the key to inclusion, to safer spaces, to equality. Respect allows you to learn from one another, and to change potentially negative ways of thinking into positive ones. Respect allows you to see someone who is different from you, and still treat them right. And that was our mission at the Forum - to educate about different topics, of course, but mostly to convey that if you have an attitude of respect, you can learn everything else you need.