By: Megan Fitzgerald
Being a student in the Bachelor of Child and Youth Care program, I come face-to-face with diversity and anti-oppressive attitudes on a daily basis. I thought I knew all there was to know about LGBT youth, being an ally myself with family and friends who have identified themselves on various parts of the spectrum. However, there is always more to the story, and I was surprised by how much more I didn’t know. This workshop was presented by SOY: Supporting Our Youth. SOY provides various community programs that help support and create opportunities for queer and trans youth and adults in the community. It is located at the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto.
I honestly believed that I understood all there was to understand about the proper terminology that was to be used in given situations. However, the greatest amount of information that I learned through this workshop was all the terminologies that can fall under the spectrum, which proved to be far more than I ever expected. Because language is not static and will change over time, the glossary always seems to be growing. It is important for everyone to be aware of these definitions because no two LGBT youth are the same. The facilitators of this workshop provided a great interactive and informative presentation with a positive attitude that was welcoming to any questions or concerns of the students. This helped enhance the learning and the willingness to discuss the topics further.
Everything that I learned through this workshop can support me in my future as I am going into a career where I will need to maintain an open mind and a supportive environment for all walks of life. Through this workshop, I learned that the best way to interact with queer youth is to know how they identify themselves. It is better to ask than to assume. It did not occur to me that they may not even like the use of pronouns, such as “he”, “she”, or “they”. Sometimes it is best to just always use their names. This should all be clarified with the individual when meeting them. It was also important for me to understand the idea that the facilitators were emphasizing at one point that transgender does not mean queer. Before this workshop, I wasn’t even sure I had a grasp on what queer meant. Now that I do, I can understand this statement in a way I didn’t before, in the same way that I can understand the different ways to identify all youth.
For future development, I would like to develop a better understanding of the resources that are available for youth in the community. SOY is great for this, because they provide a diversity of programs, making sure that there is a program that is suitable for anyone who walks in their doors. I would like to know what else there is for queer and questioning youth and how SOY determines how to assist every individual, seeing as no one is the same or identifies the same as the other. In the future, it will be necessary to observe how language evolves and what new terminologies take shape as the years go by. I would also like to know more about volunteer opportunities with either this facility or others in the community that would keep me well-educated and connected with LGBT youth. Overall, this workshop was an inspiring and thought-provoking workshop, in which the knowledge that was gained will stick with me in my future career.
By: Megan Fitzgerald