Youth Ambassadors report back: Creating space, solidarity and inspiration!

Malcolm Marshall attended the 2012 Summit in Kansas City as a youth ambassador representing the amazing organization National Youth Pride Services. Here is a write-up by Malcolm about the Youth and Young Adult track that he attended at the Summit. We were so happy you were able to attend Malcom! Thanks for all of your hard work!

-The Network

Malcolm Marshall
Youth Pride Services Ambassador
The National LGBT Health Equity Summit

The National LGBT Tobacco Health Conference was a tremendous learning experience. My job as a young YPS ambassador was to represent YPS in three health workshops by giving my opinions on how to better the LGBT community and uplift it. The first work shop was called “Health Equity” which talked about how heterosexuals view the LGBT community as not being normal or an abomination. The second work shop, “Advocacy to Action, Youth Taking on the Movement”, required us to give input on how to reduce the smoking rate in the LGBT community. The third workshop was called “Where Do We Go from Here”, and involved us giving our opinions on how to literally enforce everything we said and take it back to the network so they can try to help start all of these programs to improve the LGBT community.  Overall I learned a lot and it felt great to work with such powerful organizations.

The first workshop “Health Equity” talked about many heterosexuals viewing the LGBT community as not being normal or an abomination. The workshop was led by a doctor who explained to us that the things that are said to the LGBT community in the midst of coming out can cause a huge percentage of the LGBT community to develop low self-esteem because even though we may not show it, it still bothers us on the inside. Statistics show that most of the people in the LGBT community who experience this have higher rates of committing suicide, reliance on drugs, abusing alcohol, and take laxatives to lose weight because they were uncomfortable with their weight and feel that  they have to portray an ideal image. After all of this was discussed we moved on to getting the youth opinion on how to stop heterosexuals from having such a negative approach towards the LGBT community. The youth basically came up with things like starting classes for teaching cultural respect and competency.  In the end I felt that the strategies we came up with were the perfect start to resolving this problem.

Youth and Young Adult track at the 8th National LGBT Health Equity Summit

The second workshop “Advocacy to Action, Youth Taking on the Movement” required us to give input on how to decrease the smoking rate in the LGBT community.  In this workshop two presenters explained to us all the consequences that come with smoking, and that we need to come up with strategies to show LGBT people that smoking can be a huge threat to their lives. We split up into groups of four and came up with strategies to decrease the LGBT community smoking rate.  After this we had to present our strategies to the group. The main things that were said that each group had in common was that we need to be the movement , by getting more support, networking,  and having events educating the LGBT communities on smoking tobacco.  We most definitely worked hard and I can definitely see these things happening in the near future.

The final workshop “Where Do We Go from Here” basically was a space to give our opinions on how to actually enforce everything we had talked about and take it back to the Network so they can try to help start programs to improve the LGBT community and include young people in that.  All of us than began to huddle up, get in groups, and brainstorm. Frank Walker (founder and director of National Youth Pride Services) and Nicole Sutton (of The Real Message)  were there to guide us through this workshop.  They applied their knowledge and we created strategies on how to enforce everything we had come up with from the 2012 LGBT Summit. So we wrote a list of things we were going to send to the LGBT health Equity Network and presented it to the whole Summit.  We all strongly agreed that we needed to enforce more love, more achievement, and more support.  As we all stood there in front of everyone I realized this was my favorite conference, and that the movement was getting stronger.

Representing YPS as a young ambassador was an amazing gift. In the first workshop I became more passionate about the LGBT community. In the second workshop I learned more about the smoking rate in the LGBT community, and in the final workshop we got to be a part of the change by applying our thoughts to the Summit. At the end of my trip to the 2012 LGBT Health Equity Summit I found myself very glad that I chose to come on this trip as a young ambassador for YPS.

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