Bella Simpson and Alex Ker reported back from pre-conference youth hui which endeavoured to find out the issues that young people are facing. The feedback came from a Wellington and Auckland workshop and an online survey. Close to 100 young people’s views were captured by the surveys.
Most youth reported on negative experiences, and the difference between white cis gay men and other identities was significant. White cis gay men had more positive experiences to report, but this did not extend to more marginalised people in the community. This is increasingly important because we are finding that the youth generation are identifying with more fluid identities. Some of the youth experiences that they reported back on included:
- School councillors aren’t very good at protecting students from confidentiality
- Parents need education. Gender and sexuality are taboo subjects
- Health professionals not taking LGBTIQA+ youth seriously
- Youth have to find the support themselves – they don’t have the support automatically when they come out.
- Queer groups can be exclusive
In school experiences:
- Lack of education about queer identities and issues
- Sex education one sided
- Disrespectful experiences – teachers voicing queerphobic views
- Teachers involved in emphasising the issues not deconstructing them
Positive experiences at school included:
- Active QSA or support groups
- No uniform
- Students are generally accepting and willing to learn
- Student body on board (but the staff are not there)
This is powerful data, reflecting recent experiences of youth. Young people’s voices need more spaces that they can be heard. How do we get this information out? How can we make change?