Patrick again, at the 2012 LCBTQ Health Equity Summit in muggy, but pretty, Kansas City, Missouri.
This year marked the first year that there was a specific youth track at the LGBTQ Health Equity Summit. Having attended summits in the past, I always recognized that this was an area that we could improve upon, and I am happy to say, that it was a resounding success. Having just turned 27, and no longer fitting into the usual definition of ‘youth’, it was interesting to be a fly on the wall. I was highly impressed with the level of candor and honesty present in the room. People shared personal stories of LGBTQ health disparities, and the group came together to brainstorm ideas on how to create health equity within our community. It really is amazing what can happen when you create a safe space for young people to share thoughts and ideas.
I think that the most profound notion that I took away is that young people really need social programs that love and support them no matter what. All too often in the LGBTQ community, youth are rejected by their parents and have nowhere to turn. This leads to increases in risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, drug use and unprotected sex. I believe that as a network it is our responsibility to only help these young people, and to also give them the tools necessary to help each other. The youth track was a huge step in the right direction. Now that momentum has been built, it is important that we act on it, to ensure the health of future generations of LGBTQ young people and work towards creating health equity in our community.