Today’s blog comes as a guest post from NSVRC staff member Taylor Teichman, who recently participated in the LGBTQ youth-focused Time to Thrive Conference, hosted by Human Rights Campaign, National Education Association and the American Counseling Association. This is part 1 of a 2-part guest blog series recapping the adventures and learning opportunities from the conference.
For two-and-a-half days, a welcoming and safe conference space illuminated my learning and networking experience. Incredible guest speakers, LGBTQ youth and youth-service advocates and professionals alike inspired during the opening ceremony, morning and afternoon plenaries and throughout workshops I attended around community collaborations for preventing LGBTQ youth homelessness and fostering resilience in homeless youth. I found connections to our workshop around sexual violence encouraging as I attended these other workshops-- as it became clear that in serving youth who experience both homelessness and sexual violence trauma-informed services are imperative for letting youth guide us with their needs and stories.
Time to Thrive was a breath of fresh air. How sincere it felt to be in an environment where individuals were celebrated for their unique-ness and lived experiences. From making new relationships, to hearing from LGBTQ homeless youth, I am hopeful that we can make the connections between youth homelessness and sexual violence a reality and a priority.
As I move through this work, an ally addressing safety, inclusion, and well-being for LGBTQ youth, words from parent guest speaker Debi Jackson will continue to stay with me long after this conference: “With marriage equality as our inspiration…love, honor, cherish. These three words are used in many traditional weddings and even some not so traditional ones that I’ve attended. We say them when we are making a lifetime commitment to a person that we have chosen to have a relationship with. Why is every parent not also making this commitment to their child… our promise should be no less than to love, honor, and cherish that child even if he or she ends up part of the LGBTQ community.”