Transgender advocate helps queer, trans and nonbinary students find their voice

Dear TRENDS Diary - 

The current gender-based violence prevention curriculum taught in schools is outdated. Even when health teachers know that there are queer, trans, and nonbinary students in their classrooms, some are not willing or don’t know how to talk about queer topics. Young queer people end up in abusive situations because the system fails us and doesn’t teach us what gender based violence is or how to be safe.

I’m part of the education team at Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence (SPAN.) We hired two youth coordinators who will bring LGBTQIA+ youth voices to gender based violence and sexual assault prevention curriculum. The coordinators will work with focus groups of 30 youth to understand what’s missing in the curriculum, and present their solutions to district staff and other organizations. These youth are part of the queer community and are students in Boulder and St Vrain School Districts. Youth coordinators will be paid $15/hr, and youth in the focus groups will be paid in gift cards. I have a strong belief that anyone who takes the time to talk about hard topics, like being queer in school and what you want to see in the curriculum, deserves to be paid.

I believe youth are capable, educated, and have their own opinions about what’s important in their lives, especially about decisions and policies that directly affect them. I was the first openly trans student in my school, and that drives me to support youth. I’m tired of seeing youth be ignored in the same way I was when I was younger. I wasn’t allowed to speak my mind and now as an adult I can use that privilege to help students talk and be heard.

Any youth interested in being part of the focus groups, please email me! eduardoy@safehousealliance.org

- Eduardo Yáñez, as told to Will Betke-Brunswick