Why We Are Thankful- A Youth Empowerment Summit Recap

2015 was the year that San Joaquin Pride Center’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) and Youth Empowerment Summit (YES) became local institutions. With over 140 participants of which 54 were youth, 50 were educators and 12 parents, YEP and YES are vital and proven programs that support our LGBT youth throughout San Joaquin County.

2015 YES Milestones:

  • Stockton Unified School District hand delivered invitations to every student in the 7th grade and higher.
  • Stockton Unified School District invited every teacher in its school district and offered a paid day to attend summit, resulting in 44 SUSD educators participating.
  • Keynote by San Joaquin District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar on the topic of sex trafficking resulted in ten school’s requesting presentations on the subject.
  • Attendance for summit doubled from the previous year.

This year, the opportunities for networking, inspiring and advocating paid off. From GSA presidents and our DA setting up presentations on sex trafficking in ten schools to four GSA clubs coordinating their very own transgender day of remembrance, this year’s summit brought resources, opportunities, optimism and encouragement to our youth. Our young LGBT leaders took the baton running and are now fighting for education equality on their own behalves.

Workshops and presentations at this year’s summit included an LCAP presentation by CRLA’s Lisa Cisneros, LGBT sensitivity training for educators by SJPC Executive Director Nicholas Hatten, breakfast keynote by Stockton City Councilmember Michael Tubbs, state legislation update by EQCA’s Jo Michael and a healthy relationship workshop by Dulce Salazar. Youth group workshops, held separately from the adult sessions were facilitated by SJPC’s Jonathan Lopez, Stockton Unified’s Jennifer Robles and Reinvent South Stockton and Langston Hughes GSA Advisor Lange Luntao.

Our History

The YEP program started as a one-time summit in 2013; organized by SJPC in collaboration with California Rural Legal Assistance, Stockton Unified School District and the University of the Pacific. With 90 participants (youth, parents and educators) the overwhelming feedback from the participants was that the event should be held annually.

Who We Are

The LGBT Youth Stakeholder Committee includes SJPC staff and participants from California Rural Legal Assistance, Stockton Unified, Lincoln Unified, Tracy Unified and Linden Unified School Districts, parents of home school students, parents from Tracy Unified, Lodi Unified and Manteca Unified School Districts and youth who represent public, charter and private schools throughout San Joaquin County.  

 

What We Do

The LGBT Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) is a year round program that supports LGBT youth in schools. The Youth Empowerment Program has developed several components to empower our youth and assist them in finding resources and social opportunities to develop a support network to assist them in overcoming the challenges unique to their community. These include:

  • Program outreach staff will work with schools and students to develop or sustain gay/straight alliance resources within local schools and communities.
  • Outreach and sensitivity training activities for friends, teachers, family members, or anyone else who plays a part in the lives of our LGBTQ youth.
  • Regular social events to accommodate networking, peer support, and bringing the community closer together to reduce the risk of isolation.
  • Youth education programs to inform our youth on important topics and enhance their safety on a number of issues, ranging from safe behavior to STD/STI awareness.
  • Monthly stakeholder meeting (with youth, parents, educators and other agencies who share a common interest in the success of LGBT youth) to be held to advice SJPC on the work conducted within the program.
  • Monthly stakeholder meeting participant’s advice SJPC and participants take part in an LCAP campaign to improve school climates for LGBT youth.
  • Host our annual LGBT Youth Empowerment Summit (YES).

Empowering youth and community leadership to organize and campaign on behalf of LGBT youth for stronger school funding of LGBT programs, policies and curriculum through LCAP and other funding opportunities help in the reduction of violence towards LBGT youth in schools. In addition, the program provides access to resources and support that will aid in reducing health disparities that affect the most at-risk youth demographic.

The 2013 National School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN states: 55.5% of LGBT students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression" and "most reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities (68.1% and 61.2%, respectively) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable at school functions and extracurricular activities (68.1% and 61.2%, respectively) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable.

Per GLSEN (2007). Gay-Straight Alliances, creating safer schools for LGBT students and their allies: "GSAs are related to greater physical safety for LGBT students. LGBT students who attend schools with a GSA are less likely than those at schools without a GSA to report feeling unsafe in school because of their sexual orientation (61% vs. 68%) or because of the way in which they express their gender (38% vs. 43%)."

The report also states: "LGBT students in schools with a GSA are significantly more likely than students in schools without a GSA to be aware of a supportive adult at school (84% compared to 56%).13 LGBT students who report having supportive faculty and other school staff report higher grade point averages and are more likely to say they plan to pursue post-secondary education than LGBT students who do not have supportive school staff."

Since its formation in 2011, SJPC has played a vital role in creating safer spaces for the LGBT youth and people of San Joaquin County. With continued funding of its Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) and Youth Empowerment Summit (YES), the San Joaquin Pride Center can continue to enrich the lives of our local LGBT youth and our community at large.  

Special thanks to 2015 LGBT YES sponsor’s Stockton Unified School District, California Rural Legal Assistance, Central United Methodist Church and Chipotle.

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