Growing into affirming conversations in anti-sexual violence work

GSA Summit exhibit tableA few weeks ago I had the opportunity to exhibit at a statewide Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) Summit at Dickinson College. For two days youth and young adults learned about LGBTQ-focused topics and activism while connecting with others doing similar work all over the state.

These events are my favorite outreach activity for the entire year. Seeing these young, excited, and engaged people operate in an open and affirming environment just warms my heart. We need more spaces (read: all spaces) like this  because these young people were not just learning, they were shining!

Students and adult mentors alike were thrilled with the SAAM Campaign resources on healthy adolescent sexuality. It reminds me how happy I am that these materials address a broad range of sexual expression and identity.

It’s too common and too easy to fall into a hetero-normative discussion of sexuality and relationships. This is especially true for many people doing anti-violence work because we grew up on the gender binary discussions of the second wave feminist movement.

These conversations are important and we should still have them. However, we also need to be having the kinds of conversations that will resonate with a young lesbian experiencing pressure from her partner, who also happens to be her first girlfriend. We need to talk about the ways gender binaries affect a young trans* person who is being bullied.

I am excited for the growing conversations in our movement. I know that we’re up to the challenge of making our conversations and our organizations safe and affirming spaces for everyone. I know we’ll do this, because we must do this to end sexual violence.


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