SUMMER SEARCH STANDS WITH OUR LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY.
Trigger Warning: this post contains reference to suicide as well as violence against trans, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC individuals.
Summer Search reflects the world around us.
This February, Gallup reported that 20% of Gen Z youth identify as LGBTQ+, a number that has grown year over year.
Such is not the case for far too many within the LGBTQ+ community. We acknowledge today's realities:
- Three in ten transgender youth (aged 13-17) live in states that have passed bans on gender affirming care, and additional 13.6% of transgender youth live in states that are considering similar bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
- 59% of LGBTQ+ students who took the GLSEN National School Climate Survey felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.
- The Trevor Project tells us that over 50% of trans and non-binary youth reported considering suicide in 2022.
- While 1 in 5 young people in U.S. juvenile justice facilities identify as LGBTQ+, 85% of them are youth of color, as reported by The Movement Advancement Project.
- Given the recent institutional hostility toward BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals, the NAACP issued a formal travel advisory for the state of Florida and the HRC has declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ Americans.
- According to UCLA, transgender people are four times more likely than cisgender people to be the victim of violent crime. Most victims are trans people of color.
- Licensed clinical psychologist Dr. Tia Dole's research suggests that Black LGBTQ+ youth are less likely than other LGBTQ+ youth to receive professional counseling, despite having similar rates of mental health disparities.
The revolution of Pride has been critical for the policy changes that have happened over the past ten years, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Summer Searchers must feel safe, accepted, and able to self-actualize.
Summer Search's professional mentors are here to affirm and support our LGBTQ+ students every day, but you don’t have to be a mentor to make a difference. The Trevor Project shares that just one accepting adult can reduce the risk of a suicide attempt by 40% in LGBTQ+ youth.
How We Take Action as an Organization
In addition to our mentoring, as an organization, Summer Search strives to model that same commitment to care for our community. Here are a few ways we take action:
- Community Agreements: Informed by the voices and experiences of our participants, alumni, staff, and partners, we developed our Community Agreements to guide how we work together, take care of ourselves and others, and foster safe space at work.
- Language: Our language choices reflect our commitments to being a participant-centered program and our Community Agreements. We speak about Summer Search's programming from an asset-based perspective, using inclusive language. We work to help our participants see their lived-experiences as strengths. We celebrate the communities we serve.
- Pronouns: We include chosen pronouns in email signatures and staff bios, and it's an organizational norm to include them in conference calls.
- Benefits: Well-being, flexibility, and ongoing learning and development are pillars of our culture. We value our staff and are committed to creating an environment where every individual feels seen, heard, and valued. For instance, committing to transparent compensation practices, as well as offering insurance that covers costs of therapy, EAP benefits linked to mental health, and funds available for trainings and support related to self-care and well-being.
- Resource Sharing: We strive to foster a culture of open dialogue around difficult topics, as well as the sharing of resources and knowledge from all corners of our community.
How We All Can Take Action
Below are some actions you can take to ensure that the LGBTQ+ youth in your lives can be who they are, comfortably and safely, wherever they go.
- Track anti-LGBTQ+ bills being considered or implemented in your state.
- Tell state legislators to stop attacking the transgender community.
- Pressure your senators to pass The Equality Act, which ensures basic freedoms and protections for LGBTQ+ Americans and has been sitting in Congress for years.
- Find your local LGBTQ+ community center and reach out to see how you can help.
- Discover ways to be a stronger friend and advocate for LGBTQ+ people in your life, and if someone is in crisis, connect them with resources that can help.
Resources and Organizations:
Summer Search stands with and for our students and their families, regardless of immigration status, gender, sexuality, race, ability, or religion.
Kenyon DeVault, Summer Search Bay Area ED.
Eunice Dunham, VP of Talent.
Malika Graham-Bailey, VP of Program.
Nick Hutchinson, COO & CFO.
Tolulope Oladele, Interim Summer Search Philadelphia ED.
Ursulina Ramirez, CEO.
Peter A. Retzlaff, Summer Search NYC ED.
Megan Sussman, VP of Development.
Hermese Velasquez, Summer Search Boston ED .
Therese Williams, Interim Summer Search Seattle ED.