Queer Youth Summit 'validating' for LGBT kids
About 35 young people participated in the first “Tucson Queer Youth Summit” held at City High School on Saturday.
The four-hour event at the Downtown school included workshops on the under-representation of LGBT people in science and tech, instructions on DIY zine-making, a poetry slam and discussions about community activism. Youth from across Tucson attended.
For some, such as Danie Enriquez, 19, it was about connecting with people who've had similar experiences. "It's good to know you're not alone," Enriquez said.
City Councilwoman Karin Uhlich, who was asked to give the keynote speech, said she was involved with the summit because she wanted "to offer a message of hope and appreciation for those young people."
"I remember how hard the teen years were for me as a person who did not fit the cultural norms of heterosexuality and femininity," Uhlich said. "While there's more tolerance and societal understanding now, I know it's still hard to wonder if you'll disappoint parents and other loved ones, and wonder whether you'll truly have the same opportunities for happiness and success as those more wholly embraced by the mainstream."
"Seeing people who use the same pronouns — identifying as I do — is validating," said Tera Wright, 19.
The event at City High, 48 E. Pennington St., was organized by Tom Moore, the after-school coordinator, and members of the school's Gay-Straight Alliance. It was funded by a $1,000 grant from the University of Arizona's Institute for LGBT Studies.
"We decided that we wanted to host an event that would engage youth in a meaningful way, and leave them with resources and connections that they could carry into their daily lives," said Ezra Howard, one of the organizers.
"While Tucson has EON (Wingspan's youth center), our local LGBTQ youth center, and many schools have GSA's, committing to attending either can be intimidating for some, which is why we decided that a single-day summit might be the most beneficial way to make an immediate impact," he said.
Howard said organizers plan to make hold the summit again next year.