Award-Winning Queer Youth Leadership Summit Returns

Ronda Bullock speaks at QYLS

The GLBT Center hosted the second annual Queer Youth Leadership Summit (QYLS) on Saturday, February 2, 2019.

This year’s QYLS event featured keynote speaker Ronda Bullock, Ph.D., from we are (working to extend anti-racist education). Bullock addressed the importance of anti-racist education in general and also spoke on the importance of understanding and promoting intersectional social justice and acting as leaders of the future.

Throughout the day, participants had the opportunity to attend three out of nine different workshops. Some of the favorite workshops included “Practicing Positionality” and a GSA/QSA* Leadership Round Table. (*GSA” stands for Gay-Straight Alliance and “QSA” stands for Queer-Straight Alliance, both of which are common names for high school groups that support GLBT students and their allies).

The Practicing Positionality workshop gave participants the opportunity to map out multiple aspects of their identity and see how those identities affect the way they interact with the world around them, while the Round Table offered student coordinators and GSA leaders a chance to discuss their organizations, challenges, successes and directions for the future.

In addition to the workshops, participants had the opportunity to speak to a panel of five current GLBT-identifying NC State students. The students spoke about their experiences living on campus and building community with other GLBT students.

Building Strong Connections

By the end of the day, participants and student coordinators had built a strong connection. The final activity for QYLS involved break-out action planning sessions. Student coordinators worked with participants to establish both short- and long-term goals for their GSAs and their high schools as a whole. At the end of the day, a returning participant said that “this was even better than last year.”

The event was not only meaningful for participants, but for student coordinators as well. Student coordinator Kahlia Phillips stated that “it was super refreshing to be in the presence of high school students that are passionate about the work they are doing. My high school didn’t have that type of advocacy spirit, so to see students aged 14-18 embrace that was amazing.”

Chris Moore, another student coordinator, said he was “appreciative of the willingness to share their experiences and be vulnerable with each other. I would recommend QYLS to any high school student looking to learn about ways to create change within their school.”

The GLBT Center staff is already planning for the third annual QYLS to continue working with high school youth in the Triangle area.

Andy DeRoin is program coordinator for the GLBT Center.