Shaping the Conversation with LGBTQ Youth

By: Jeff Hagan, Marketing Associate

When we consider the growing portrayal of the LGBTQ community in the media, one of the most important considerations is the impact this has on the next generation. This is why telling our stories in a genuine way is the heart of Live Out Loud’s programs. While the influx of LGBTQ stories in the media is important, we need to be aware of which stories are being told and how they’re portrayed.

Live Out Loud’s Manager of Youth Programming Cardozie Jones leads programs at gay-straight alliance (GSA) clubs at a variety of schools in all five boroughs of the NYC area. No matter what school he visits, LGBTQ students report feeling marginalized and crave genuine connections to the community at large.

In October, Cardozie led programs surrounding the idea of Fact vs. Story. Students were quick to see how the news stories that appear in the media shape the national conversation and influence which issues come to the forefront. In one activity, Cardozie began by asking students to identify a fact about the LGBTQ community. One student raised his hand and said, “The LGBT community is fighting for same-sex marriage.” He then asked students to identify if “students at this school are in the gay-straight alliance club” was a fact. Another student raised his hand and said that this “fact” doesn’t tell the whole story, because not all students at the school are in the club. This helped students to see that sometimes the conversation becomes all about same-sex marriage, while other issues facing the LGBTQ community, like homelessness and violence, are often swept under the rug.

Students also made the connection between how a story is told and the effect it can have on society. At a middle school that participates in Live Out Loud programs, one student talked about how negative stories lead to negative thinking, and ultimately negative actions.

Storytelling lies at the heart of Live Out Loud’s programs. LGBTQ youth need to hear the full story from those who’ve walked in their shoes, and get the support they need to lead empowered lives. When we bring a volunteer role model to speak to GSA students, these youth get to hear first-hand a true story of what it was like to leave high school and become a successful LGBTQ person. Role models don’t hold back, sharing their challenges as well as their successes. In this way, we give the next generation the tools to create realistic and empowering visions for their futures.

Share your story as a role model and help shape the conversation with LGBTQ youth – get involved today with the NYC-based High School Program, or return to your hometown high school through Live Out Loud’s Homecoming Project.


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