One of SYPP’s oldest projects is the Queer Youth Rights (QYR) initiative, a youth leadership, social support, and political action group led by and for high school age queer youth and allies. QYR was a supportive group for youth that not only worked to meet various needs of the queer youth community but was also beneficial for the individual youth involved.
QYR created a safe and supportive environment for queer youth. A study done by the Search Institute “The Power of Developmental Assets” demonstrates that youth are less likely to engage in risky behaviors in the areas of violence, alcohol, drug use, school absenteeism, and attempted suicide when they are supported by positive youth development programs. Queer youth have higher rates of homelessness, suicide, abuse, and depression than heterosexual youth. QYR provided a space for queer youth to develop positive developmental assets such as leadership, empowerment, and creativity.
Queer Youth Rights’ goals and activities included:
– Weekly Queer Youth Organizing Meetings. A weekly meeting for 10-15 youth from various schools and GLBTQ youth programs in the Seattle area. These meetings were 100% run by youth and combined social support, leadership development, and political and community action.
– Queer Youth “Call to Action”. We organized a community needs assessment that brought together a large, diverse group of GLBTQ youth to discuss the current needs of the queer youth community in Seattle. Youth’s needs were prioritized and action plans developed for the top one or two issues.
– Leadership Training Retreats. We organized weekend retreats to teach queer youth how to take a stand on issues in their communities. These retreats created strong leaders and built strong relationships with other queer youth in the Seattle area.
– Bend-it-Extravaganza. First organized in the summer 2003, this event was the brainchild of a former QYR intern. Bend-it is a weekend of arts and education to rally queer youth and their allies. This year Bend-It is now its own organization partnered with Pride. For more information please visit Bend-it here.
QYR is currently on hiatus, please call or email us if you are interested in restarting this initiative, or get involved in the fabulous, independent, and youth-led Queer Youth Space project.