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Valuing Young People   

This section contains some examples of ways to get involved in helping, supporting and valuing young people. There are many ways to become an active citizen in this area, each involving different levels of commitment, skills and responsibility

In this section of the guide we focus on the roles of:

  • How to become a Children’s Panel member
  • How to become a Parent-Teacher Association member
  • How to become a School Board member
  • How to become a volunteer youth worker

    Things to consider

    As an LGBT person interested in starting or increasing your involvement in this area, you might want to consider:

  • Sadly, the education system is still far from being a safe haven for LGBT people, whether pupils, teachers, other staff or volunteers. While some schools have positive attitudes, others still either don’t see LGBT issues as relevant or think of LGBT people ourselves as the problem. As an LGBT individual involved in this area, you may find that the first thing you need to do is carry out some education of your own by raising awareness among colleagues about why LGBT issues matter and why schools are an appropriate place to address them.

  • Despite such challenges, being an LGBT PTA member or school board member offers considerable opportunities to shape the way that an essential institution is run and the next generation is brought up. It gives a chance to ensure that education systems are based on equality and provide respectful environments within which all children and adults can learn and flourish.

  • Anti-LGBT attitudes and bullying don’t just harm LGBT young people. Any child or young person who does not conform to ways of behaving that are traditionally associated with being “masculine” or “feminine” can be on the receiving end.

  • The consequences for young people can be devastating. Homophobia, transphobia and bullying lead to disproportionate levels of poor educational achievement, early exit from education, poor employment prospects, low self-esteem, self harm and suicide.

  • If you are an openly LGBT member of an organisation that supports young people, you may have been elected, or may be expected, to represent the LGBT community. It will be important to be clear about when you are sharing your knowledge and experience as an individual and when you need to consult with other LGBT people in order to include the different needs and opinions of our diverse community. Also, other people might assume that you will only have interests or expertise in relation to LGBT issues, such as support for LGBT youth. They may need reminding that you can have just as much to offer on issues that are not specific to sexuality or gender identity, such as primary school testing or fostering, as anyone else.

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