Monday, April 24, 2023

A Place For Everyone: Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth In Out-Of-School Time Organizations

Source: Anete Lusina, www.pexels.com


By Guest Blogger, Clarke Hill
(This was originally published by the National Afterschool Association in the Spring 2023 Afterschool Today issue.)

In the world of youth development, very little is simple. More often than not, organizations are up against seemingly insurmountable odds in the fight for a just society for all young people. The battles young people face are everywhere, from mass shootings to global pandemics and crises related to mental health, housing, and extreme economic insecurity to name just a few. 

Advocating for LGBTQ+ young people can feel like one of these insurmountable tasks. The Trevor Project reports that in 2022 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous year, including 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth, as a result of discrimination they faced in school, social gatherings, and at home. That is a staggering statistic. 

However, equally as staggering, is the finding that when trans and nonbinary young people have their pronouns respected by the adults in their lives they report suicide attempts at half the rate of other trans and nonbinary youth. In a world of big complex problems, using the correct pronoun is something we can all do without a whole lot of effort. When you start to dig into what else LGBTQ+ youth need to feel safe and supported, it turns out most of that is pretty simple too. 

Not only is it simple, out-of-school organizations actually have a unique ability to change those statistics by creating inclusive organizations for all and prioritizing the well-being of their LGBTQ+ youth. 

In this country, youth are provided a variety of places to feel safe and included; it is often taken for granted that home, community, church, school, sports teams, etc. are places for youth to find safety. The truth is that for many LGBTQ+ youth these are spaces that have caused trauma. In 2022 the Trevor Project found that only 37% of LGBTQ+ youth identified home as an affirming space and only 55% felt affirmed at school. Schools are often barred from supporting LGBTQ+ youth because of discriminatory policies instituted by school boards or local governments. The safety of one’s home is dependent upon the beliefs of one’s parents. Out-of-school time organizations often do not have to adhere to the same discriminatory policies and can ensure they are only hiring staff that are accepting and then provide continued training on active inclusion. 

Source: Afterschool Today Spring 2023

One of the easiest things your organization can do is ensure the use of correct pronouns. While it can feel difficult, asking someone for their pronouns and trying your best to use the correct pronouns gets easier as you practice. If you make a mistake and use the wrong pronoun, you can simply apologize and move forward with the correct pronoun. The effort is impactful to the young person even when mistakes are made. The use of they/them pronouns to address a singular person also might feel uncomfortable at first but it is something that we regularly do in the English language. For example, if you walked up to a table at a restaurant and saw a jacket left by a previous customer you might say “oh look, someone left their jacket, I’m going to take it to lost and found for them.” Change can be uncomfortable, and adjusting pronoun usage may have some bumps in the road, but in the end, our effort has real potential to reduce suicidal thoughts in young people. 

Remember, it is impossible to know everyone’s pronouns just by looking at them; staff can model sharing their pronouns when they introduce themselves and make sure to provide the option to share pronouns when they ask young people to introduce themselves. Additionally, you can offer name tags that have a blank for names and a blank for pronouns. Lastly, you may have seen the term “preferred pronouns” used in the past but the definition of preferred is an adjective to describe something that someone likes better than something else. If they were preferred pronouns, it means that other pronouns are acceptable to use which is not the case. 

Again, the youth development field faces big complex problems, but this is a solution with relatively low effort and extremely high impact. 

The lynchpin to creating an inclusive organization is ensuring your staff have received training specific to working with LGBTQ+ youth. Luckily, there are many fantastic resources that can help your organization with education: 

MORE ABOUT...

Clarke Hill, is the Principal and Founder of Clarke Hill Consulting and Co-Founder of Queer Connect. Clarke is a non-profit consultant with over 20 years of experience and her areas of focus as a consultant are non-profit organizational development, youth development, quality improvement, and data-driven DEI. She has worked with organizations across the country such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Washington Charters Association, Neighborhood House, and the Forum for Youth Investment. She also worked with government institutions including the Centers for Disease Control, King County, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. 



Monday, April 17, 2023

LGBTQ+ Youth's Rights Under Attack: STEP 1 (Part 2)

Source: Alex Tinca, www.pexels.com

By: Sam Piha

There have been recent attacks on LGBTQ+ youth in political rhetoric and as state houses around America are considering legislation that targets LGBTQ young people. Even though there are inclusive and progressive politics in some states, afterschool programs in states across the country do not enjoy this. How can they promote a safe space for all youth amid state efforts to erase the LGBTQ+ community? To read part 1 of this blog, click here.

WHAT CAN WE DO?
Begin by staying informed. Below, in this blog we continue our listing of articles about these attacks which are listed by topic. If you click on the title, it will take you to the original article. 

MORE ABOUT SCHOOLS

Source: GLSEN

March 24, 2023 • One parent complained that a Renaissance art lesson was “pornographic.”

March 27, 2023 • The school also tried to ban a Kermit the Frog song.

SPORTS
May 17, 2022 • South Carolina's governor signed into law a bill that would ban transgender students from playing girls' or women's sports in public schools and colleges.

March 25, 2022 • Lawmakers voted to override GOP Gov. Spencer Cox's veto of legislation banning transgender youth athletes from playing on girls teams. The move comes amid a nationwide culture war over trans issues.

IOWA PUBLIC RADIO NEWS March 3, 2022 • The ban takes effect immediately. The ban applies to K-12 schools and community colleges as well as colleges and universities that are part of the NCAA or NAIA.

March 24, 2023 • Russia's gay propaganda law creeps into the National Hockey League.

CRIMINALIZING LGBTQ+ YOUTH AND THEIR FAMILIES
May 13, 2022 • The ruling overturns an injunction barring state officials from following Abbott's directive to view treatments such as hormones and puberty-blocking drugs as incidents of child abuse.









SOME PUSH BACK
April 6, 2023 • The proposed rules would give schools flexibility for “fairness in competition” or where participation could lead to injury.

February 27, 2023 • Dandelion Hunt-Smith moved across the country with their family from Columbus, Ga., to San Francisco for their senior year of high school in search of a welcoming school.

March 2, 2022 • Judge's order stops short of preventing the state from looking into other reports about children receiving similar care.

May 14, 2022 • The federal judge issued a preliminary injunction while a court challenge goes forward. The judge left in place other parts of the law that banned gender-affirming surgeries.

March 22, 2022 • Eleven states have enacted transgender sports bans, though many have been snarled by lawsuits.

THE TEXAS NEWSROOM, March 11, 2022 • The judge halted the state from enforcing Gov. Greg Abbott's directive to launch "child abuse" investigations against parents getting gender-affirming care for their transgender children.

March 8, 2022 • Disney CEO Bob Chapek says the company will pledge five million dollars to groups "working to protect" LGBTQ+ rights. The Human Rights Campaign says it won't take Disney's money.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES


Monday, April 10, 2023

LGBTQ+ Youth's Rights Under Attack: STEP 1 (Part 1)

Source: www.pexels.com

By Sam Piha

The recent attacks on LGBTQ+ youth in political rhetoric and as state houses around America are considering legislation that targets LGBTQ young people, according to the Trevor Project,” ranging from censoring LGBTQ-related curriculums and books, banning transgender student-athletes from participating in sports that match their gender identity, and criminalizing doctors and families who support youth with transgender medical care.”

“Uncivil discourse and hostile political rhetoric have seeped into the nation’s classrooms, leading to declines in support for teaching about race and racism, and sizable growth in harassment of LGBTQ youth, according to a survey of high school principals released this week.”Ed Source, Political rancor has had chilling effect on public education, survey finds

Even though there are inclusive and progressive politics in some states, afterschool programs in states across the country do not enjoy this. How can they promote a safe space for all youth amid state efforts to erase the LGBTQ+ community? 

WHAT CAN WE DO TO SUPPORT LGBTQ+ YOUTH AMIDST THE ANTI-LGBTQ MOVEMENT?
STEP 1:Begin by staying informed. According to The Trevor Project, “Follow news about LGBTQ issues in your state and around the country. Sign up for newsletters or alerts from organizations like The Trevor Project or the ACLU and follow their social media accounts to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.

AT HIGHER RISK
We know that LGBTQ+ youth are more vulnerable when compared to other youth. They are:
Source: The Lies and Dangers of Efforts to Change Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity










ANTI-LBGTQ STATE LEGISLATION

Below, we have listed several articles by topic which were written by National Public Radio and others. If you click on the title, it will take you to the original article. 


“It’s clear that lawmakers should be taking an intersectional approach to public policy, not working overtime to target the most marginalized young people, particularly those who are transgender or nonbinary, for partisan political points. We all must play a role in promoting LGBTQ acceptance and creating a more supportive world for all young people.”- Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project

SCHOOLS 

March 8, 2022 • Florida's Senate passed a bill Tuesday that aims to limit discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools. Gov. Ron DeSantis has signaled support for the legislation.

Texas attorney general says Austin school Pride Week celebration breaks state law
March 25, 2022 • Austin's school district holds events to celebrate LGBTQIA+ students every year. Attorney General Ken Paxton says, "when it comes to sex education, parents—not school districts—are in charge."

HEALTHCARE
Alabama Legislature votes to ban gender-affirming medical care for transgender youth

April 7, 2022 • State lawmakers also passed a separate measure prohibiting early classroom instruction on sexual and gender identity, a bill critics have dubbed "Don't Say Gay."

Alabama is using the case that ended Roe to argue it can ban gender-affirming care
July 3, 2022 • The case marks one of the first known instances in which a conservative state has tried to apply the abortion ruling to other realms, just as LGBTQ advocates and others were afraid would happen.

 Source: Gabriel C. Pérez/KUT, National Public Radio,
VIDEO: Parents of trans kids fear Texas' anti-trans orders

A judge blocks part of an Alabama law that criminalizes gender-affirming medication
May 14, 2022 • The federal judge issued a preliminary injunction while a court challenge goes forward. The judge left in place other parts of the law that banned gender-affirming surgeries.
 
Texas Supreme Court OKs state child abuse inquiries into the families of trans kids
May 13, 2022 • The ruling overturns an injunction barring state officials from following Abbott's directive to view treatments such as hormones and puberty-blocking drugs as incidents of child abuse.
 
Can states limit abortion and gender-affirming treatments outside their borders?
March 15, 2022 • Building on SB 8 in Texas, some Republican lawmakers are trying a new strategy: pushing bills that would attempt to limit what residents can and can't do even beyond state lines.
 
Georgia governor signs trans health care ban
March 24, 2023 • Doctors could lose their job if they provide safe and effective treatments to trans youth.

BANNING OF BOOKS, MUSIC, AND ART

Source: National Public Radio

These kids' authors are telling the stories of trans youth. Book bans won't stop them.
March 31, 2022 • As lawmakers push forward with efforts to curb the rights of queer and trans youth, authors who've written about gender expansive and trans identities say storytelling is crucial.




Monday, April 3, 2023

Mental Health in Afterschool: Don't Forget to Actively Promote the Mental Health of Afterschool Workers

Source: www.pexels.com

By Sam Piha
 
In Part 1 & 2 of Youth Mental Health: What Can We Do in Afterschool, we explored which afterschool superpowers can be applied to address the youth mental health crisis. Below we offer thoughts on how afterschool programs can promote the mental health of adult staff. We also offer additional resources on mental health. (Note: learning loss indicated by lower reading and math scores should not be the focus of afterschool.)
 
Don’t Forget to Actively Promote the Mental Health of Afterschool Workers
Serving as a youth worker can be very stressful, even before the pandemic. It can be challenging, especially if staff are struggling with their own stress. It is important for afterschool organizations, leaders and individual youth workers to take actions to support the mental health of staff.
 
“Self-care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you.” - Katie Reed, Writer, speaker, and mental health advocate 
 
Tips for Afterschool Provider Organizations: 
  • Ensure access to free mental health services for staff
  • Allow program staff to take mental health days, with pay.
  • Lead activities that express appreciation for program staff as important “first responders.”
  • Even though many programs suffer from staff shortages, try to avoid over scheduling your staff.
  • Compensate staff when they work overtime. 
 
Tips for Afterschool Program Leaders:
  • Make statements that normalize the stress that comes with youth work and acknowledge the contributions of staff.
  • Conduct frequent team building exercises.
  • Promote messaging to staff to set aside time for self-care and seek mental health support when needed.
  • Institute check-in circles at staff meetings, which allow people to share their experiences.
  • Offer workshops on self-care practices. Incorporate self-care practices into meetings and encouraging staff to practice mindfulness, yoga and stretching can help build coping skills. 
  • Remind staff, “We can’t solve the youth mental health crisis alone. It takes the entire village.”
 
Self-Care Tips for Individual Afterschool Workers 
“Self-care is the action and effort of taking care of one’s physical, mental and emotional well-being. It is not about being selfish, but rather about self-preservation. It also isn’t about investing in products; it’s about investing in one’s self.”National Afterschool Association, 104 Self-Care Strategies for Afterschool Professionals
  • Set aside time for self-care and seek support when needed.
  • Take a mental health day as a paid sick day when needed. 
  • Practice mindfulness, yoga and stretching.
Source: www.pexels.com

“Self-care is a personal practice that should be exercised daily and for the long term. Beginning a self-care journey may feel daunting and overwhelming with all the information available on the topic. The following 104 strategies are tips to help get you started and/or refine your self-care practices. While there plenty of tips included in this guide, identify those which you most resonate with and will help you on your self-care journey.” - National Afterschool Association, 104 Self-Care Strategies for Afterschool Professionals
 
MORE INFORMATION ON AFTERSCHOOL AND YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH
There is an abundance of information on COVID and youth mental health. In addition to the links cited in our previous blogs on mental health, below are some recommended resources on the topics discussed. 
 
 
Speaker’s Forums/ Webinars
Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation have sponsored 4 recent webinars on the topic of kindness and mental health. We invite you to view these presentations by clicking on the image below.







Youth Write About Kindness

Source: www.pexels.com The Laws of Life essay contest, sponsored by Character.org , encourages middle school and high school students to re...