Pride Month Reading List
In celebration of Pride month, members of the team have curated a list of work that celebrates, embodies or shines a light on LGBTQIA+ history, experiences, and voices.
This article, by our Youth Engagement Lead Eli, provides an insight into their lived experience as a Queer Youth Worker practising in Sussex, and calls for allyship and solidarity to the whole LGBTQ+ community.
The article begins by describing some of the key legislative changes which have impacted the LGBTQ+ community in recent years and discusses how they have contributed to increases in hate crime and abuse, including targeted attacks on LGBTQ+ youth organisations and LGBTQ+ youth workers.
The article goes on to talk about and celebrate some of the work that Eli has been involved in through her previous role with YMCA DownsLink Group. It speaks to the importance of safe spaces, youth voice, training, partnerships, democratic engagement, and Pride.
The overlap between being trans and having a neurodivergent diagnosis was starkly described by blogger Arlo West in this recent article. Here, Arlo describes neurodiversity as being hard to pull apart from the transgender journey of their life. Arlo discusses a possible misdiagnosis of borderline personality disorder, rather than autism while transitioning, and considers the overlap between those that are transgender and those who are neurodiverse. They consider the role or facade trans people must take and play to get adequate health care, both privately and through the NHS. Arlo shares their own story, discussing that they had to retrospectively portray their childhood, such as preferring more ‘masculine’ toys and games in order to gain access to health care.
FRIDA has been working with young activists to co-create the highly practical and informative Young Feminist Leadership Toolkit for LGBTQI+ organisers, to strengthen the LGBTQI+ movement across Africa. Young organisers from West, East, Southern, and Central Africa (WESCA) worked hand-in-hand with the Creative Action Institute and FRIDA to list strategies to build leadership and collaboration capacity in the region. With this, they also aimed to strengthen cyber security, regional rights, and intersectional practices, focusing on “resourcing and accompanying young activists and their organisations to co-create a powerful African feminist future.”
At the Vancouver Queer Film Festival last summer, I learnt about their wider Out In Schools work tackling homophobic and transphobic oppression through both meaningful representation on screen and facilitated sessions in classrooms, as well as their awesome Disruptor Fellowship. I found myself thinking about this work, and what we could learn from it. Closer to home but on a similar note, I’m a big fan of Queer Book Box for LGBTQ+ reads on subscription (all supplied by the UK’s oldest LGBTQ+ bookshop!) I really appreciate their mission: “It's powerful to see yourself reflected in a character, we want everyone to experience that joy.”
‘Olly Alexander: Growing Up Gay’ is an eye-opening 2017 BBC Documentary exploring the prevalence of mental health issues within the LGBTQ+ community. In the documentary, musician and actor Olly recounts his own experiences dealing with mental health, and talks to various people in the LGBTQ+ community to hear their stories. The documentary touches on a range of subjects such as depression, self-harm, eating disorders and anxiety. Olly visits various support groups to shine a light on some of the inspirational work being done to address mental health in the LGBTQ+ community, yet he recognises the lack of youth-specific mental health support available. If you’d like to engage in the conversation and understand mental health within the LGBTQ+ community, then add this to your watch list!
'Positive Futures', the latest report from Just Like Us, looks at outcomes for LGBTQ+ young people who grow up with support (e.g. from home, school, and workplaces) and those who do not. As Interim Chief Exec Amy Ashenden says, it’s a pretty devastating read in many ways - highlighting how much work we need to do to better support LGBTQ+ young people. I found particular interest in the sections on LGBTQ+ media representation and visibility in schools and other spaces. The report also shows what can happen with strong support and the resulting recommendations will be valuable for anyone working in or supporting youth provision, as well as in schools, libraries, community groups, and places of worship. The central call to action is clear:
“We invite everyone who works with or cares for a LGBTQ+ young person to read the report and be vocal about their support. Young people desperately need to hear that the adults in their lives unequivocally believe that being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans does not make you lesser than but is in fact something to be celebrated – otherwise we will see another generation facing the heart-wrenching outcomes detailed in the report.”
[Please note that the report includes content about abuse, self-harm, and suicide].
I have long had an interest in intersectionality – the crossover of multiple identities. As such I was drawn to The LGBTQ+ Young People in Social Care (LYPSA) Project concluded by The University of Birmingham in 2022. They have just published three separate studies seeking to understand and improve the social care experiences of sexual and gender minority youth in England.
The first study was a scoping review of the international evidence about the health and wellbeing experiences of LGBTQ+ young people in both foster and residential care. This international evidence base showed:
- LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to come into care, have more care placements, and spend longer periods of time in care than non-LGBTQ+ youth.
- LGBTQ+ youth in care have more health, mental health and wellbeing inequalities compared to non-LGBTQ+ peers.
- These inequalities often relate to rejection and discrimination from birth families, social workers, foster parents, residential staff and peers because of their LGBTQ+ identities.
Add the other two studies to your reading list to understand more about the experiences of sexual and gender minority youth in social care.
After attending a workshop about queer pedagogy at the PALYCW last week delivered by Hannah Polkard, I find myself looking for more opportunities to highlight the way in which young people and practitioners are being affected by heteronormative and binary thinking. This article, by McGill Education student Marine Khediguian, reflects on the use of queer pedagogy to challenge binary thinking, whilst also creating a learning environment in which students were able to experience equity, diversity, and inclusion.
This article provides a useful starting point for reflecting on the prevalence of heteronormativity in our practice. Whilst curriculums might seem an obvious place to start, there are many areas in which heteronormativity prevails, for example, within language, gendering activities, resources, and promotional literature. Here, the challenge is to embrace queer teaching, to think and act more intentionally, and challenge binary thinking. Khedijuian offers some suggestions for change to occur, such as embracing dialogue and representation. By doing so, we can create a discourse which positively aligns with the idea of inclusive, diverse, and equitable practice.
If you would like to find out more about Hannah Poklad’s research please do reach out. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.