by Alex Iantaffi, Guest Blogger
Reporting on The 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit (Kansas City, MO)
Support, Love & Knowledge were called for by the youth participants on August 14th, during the closing plenary. Thanks to generous sponsorship by great organizations, such as the Cancer Action Network of the American Cancer Society, Missouri Foundation for Health, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the National African American Tobacco Prevention Network, the National Latino Tobacco Control Network, and many others, this year there were two dozen young people attending the Summit. As an older transgender and queer-identified person, who is dedicated to co-creating a legacy of healthier LGBTQA communities, I felt energized by the presence of so many inspiring younger participants! Not only I had a blast working alongside many of them the afternoon before the Summit, figuring out how to make balloon columns, I was also fortunate enough to listen to the lunchtime panel and the summary agenda shared by participants in the Youth Track at the end of the day.
The Youth Panel talked about the importance of involving young people in organizations in meaningful ways, moving beyond tokenizing, and towards full respect for what young people can bring to the table. I thought that the Summit this year gave us an example of what substantive involvement of young people in our movement looks like, and how powerful it is! By the end of the Summit, in fact, the Youth Track had created its own agenda of priorities and action points. Here it’s my summary of that agenda, hoping that I have captured all the main points:
- increase cultural competence among health professionals;
- acknowledge that there are disparities between groups within our own LGBTQ communities;
- increase visibility of The Network for LGBT Health Equity;
- advocate for more funding for LGBTQ youth programs to offer social support.
I know these priorities will inform my own research and practice as a public health researcher and community activist. How do you feel about them? What are our priorities for LGBTQ health and how do we keep involving young people in meaningful and substantial ways? I would love to hear your ideas/comments/opinions! Thanks.