By Brianna McAdoo, Special to the AFRO
In the spirit of Bullying Prevention Month and LGBTQ History month students, educators and advocates sat down and engaged on the fight for justice for LGBTQ youth of color in America. This interactive panel on Educational Justice for LGBTQ students of color took place at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts on October 30.
The conversation was moderated by David Johns who serves as the executive director for the National Black Justice Coalition. Taking an unconventional but necessary approach to this interactive panel, students were centered as leaders in the conversation and given the room to offer their unique solutions to issues effecting Black LGBTQ youth.
Students suggested unlearning ignorance and centering love and empathy at the center of human interactions as a way forward.
The Education Trust, the National Black Justice Coalition and GLSEN joined forces to offer recommendations on how schools can offer more inclusive learning environments for LGBTQ students of color. Their solutions are, “1.Develop and teach curricula that is all-encompassing and responsive 2.Provide and ensure LGBTQ students of color have access to appropriate mental and social supports. 3. Affirm the place of organizationns that serve LGBTQ people of color as partners in the fight toward justice for students.”
A major emphasis was put on the need to protect, support, uplift and include LGBTQ students of color in conversations centered around their future.
The panel was comprised of president/CEO of the Education Trust, John B. King Jr., executive director for GLSEN Eliza Byard, activist Johnetta Elzie, deputy director at Education Leaders of Color, Sharhonda Bossier, Howard University student, Justin Calhoun and Duke Ellington student Chloe Griffin.
Over the span of an hour and a half, an extremely dynamic engagement took place where students and panelists spoke about everything from policy recommendations, creating safe spaces, being a better ally, to mental health struggles that LGBTQ youth experience as a result of stigmatizations and overt violence and ignorance towards the LGBTQ community.
When speaking on the violence that LGBTQ students of color experience on a regular basis, executive director for GLSEN, Eliza Byard asked, “What would it feel like if you went to school everyday expecting to experience violence? Expecting to experience the kind of stigmatization that students face?” She continued on to share that 81% of students are regularly harassed further emphasizing the urgency to vote, so that the future of LGBTQ Black youth are not put in any further danger byway of discriminatory policies.
During the course of the panel, John B. King of the Education Trust highlighted, “If we won’t defend the humanity of others, then we are sacrificing our own.”