Young people are the changemakers of today and the leaders of tomorrow.
In recognition of International Youth Day 2022 the Global Queer Youth Network, supported by ILGA World, call for intergenerational solidarity and communication in the ongoing push for an equal world for all – with particular focus on the future of the global LGBTIQ+ community. As our LGBTIQ+ activist elders continue to progress through life it is vital that young people listen, learn, and advocate on the issues that impact us all. Similarly, it is imperative that the LGBTIQ community listen to, meaningfully support, and advocate on behalf of LGBTIQ+ young people. Creating an equal world for all ages requires intentional intergenerational partnerships and reciprocal knowledge sharing, as recent statistics suggest more and more young people are finding solidarity and identity with the LGBTIQ community. Advocacy for intergenerational LGBTIQ+ solidarity must be sustainable, meaningfully participatory, and community oriented.
The first suggestion for progress towards a future of intergenerational solidarity is to ensure meaningful participation of LGBTIQ youth voices in discussions, processes, and systems which impact their lives now and in the future. Meaningful participation means creating avenues to access high-level advocacy spaces and ensuring these spaces recognise the intersectional needs of LGBTIQ+ youth. Barriers to access for LGBTIQ youth can range from financial capacity to personal safety concerns, from geographic barriers to the digital divide. Meaningful participation in the context of the work of the Global Queer Youth Network has always meant taking a holistic and intersectional approach to accessing advocacy spaces. In practice, this has manifested as providing financial support for participation in consultations (such as The Together Conference), ensuring individuals are supported throughout their preparation and engagement in the advocacy space (such as speaking on panels with high-level officials), and creating in-community networks to share advocacy opportunities and resources. This multi-method support approach allows for increased participation from individuals who would otherwise have limited capacity to engage in advocacy.
Additionally, within the space of meaningful participation, it is vital to consider the reception of input from LGBTIQ youth advocates and activists from an intersectional understanding of age and experience. As reported by many within our network of activists, youth voices are not equally respected to that of their older peers and colleagues. The youth voice must be considered within the context of the individual’s lived experience and consider this experience as expertise. The intersectional issue of access to educational spaces and professional workplace experiences are key to understanding the needs of, and developing solutions to, limited participation or meaningful input from young LGBTIQ+ people. Without clear pathways to engage in procedural, civil society, and other stakeholder spaces of power LGBTIQ young people’s voices will continue to be left out. These pathways must act towards equity for those who are already at the margins of access to education, employment, and personal safety.
Youth advocacy sustainability does not only relate to environmental sustainability and the consideration of the climate crisis on youth advocacy but also to mean the sustainability of engaging with advocacy for LGBTIQ youth. In the experience of our network of advocates, it is common that the intensity of LGBTIQ advocacy can be emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially draining. Without appropriate support and information on how to develop healthy self-care practices, LGBTIQ youth advocates will continue to burn-out from advocacy spaces before reaching a maturity which would allow them to become their own intergenerational advocates. To ensure a future where LGBTIQ advocates are the stakeholders for their own rights we must protect the well-being of today’s youth advocates. Similarly, to the Global Queer Youth Network’s understanding of meaningful participation, our call for sustainable advocacy practices is an intersectional one.
Finally, we must ensure action-oriented advocacy which supports local, community, and grassroots organisations from all areas but with a particular focus on regions which are underrepresented in high-level advocacy spaces. These LGBTIQ youth advocates must be actively supported in ensuring their equal participation. Oftentimes our network of LGBTIQ youth advocates will report that opportunities to engage are shared with little consideration of strategy to reach those who are unable to access advocacy spaces regularly.
The three elements proposed here are at the core of the work of the Global Queer Youth Network, for similar recommendations and resources we are proud to invite you to explore The Together Statement. This document is the result of a comprehensive and multi-issue informed consultation with LGBTIQ youth. The statement covers five key issue areas: Health, Housing, Education, Employment, and Political Participation. In the statement you can also explore our methodology and theory of change for, we invite you to consider these as tools for your ongoing support of LGBTIQ youth advocacy.
It is vital for an equal future for all that youth voices are meaningfully and sustainably consulted, supported, and celebrated.