First SouthEast LGBTQ Activist Camp a Huge Success!

Originally  posted at the MSSC site.

Southeastern LGBTQ Activist Camp came to a close around 4pm Saturday July 21st, 2012. The event marked the first time this large of a group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and straight youth came together to learn about anti-oppression work. The coalition of five states sponsoring the event brought together approximately 50 youth from Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Arkansas. The coalition partners included sponsor organizations Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition and Gay Straight Alliance Network (based in California) along with host organization Center for Artistic Revolution. Youth from the Georgia Safe Schools Coalition led a workshop on Trans Justice. The Southern Poverty Law Center of Alabama and PFLAG Maryville of Tennessee also sponsored youth from their states.

The camp is the first of what hopes to be an annual event. Campers from both Georgia and Mississippi were already beginning to claim next year’s location. Participants ranged from 14-25 years old and many of which already had experience working on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues. The goal of the camp was to create safer schools and communities for LGBTQ youth and their allies by providing a more intersectional approach to Gay Straight Alliance work and encourage youth to take back skills to be leaders in their own schools communities and beyond.

Among the Georgia participants were youth from JustUsATL.

JustUsATL Inc. is a 100% youth-run group that provides a safe space for the Greater Atlanta area’s LGBTQQA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, and Asexual) youth. They offer weekly discussion groups, a peer-led mental health group, HIV/STI testing, and social events.

Other participants included youth trainers from William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation who led a workshop on racism and white supremacy in the Southern US.

Founded in 1999, the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation builds more inclusive communities by promoting diversity and citizenship, and by supporting projects that help communities solve local challenges.

Along with youth and trainer-led workshops, campers had the opportunity to visit the historic Little Rock Central High where in 1957 racial integration was the cause for protests, harassment and threats to the Little Rock Nine. Campers were able to meet one of the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean Brown in a rare appearance at the museum.

For many youth this was the first time they had traveled outside of their state, or the first time they were able to be in a completely safe and queer-friendly environment full of allies. By the end of the camp, participants had a deeper understanding of systems of oppressions, how our struggles are connected to others, and how to be a good ally in the various movements. Not to mention life-long friends! It was a historic event, the first of its kind in the SouthEast, and we will work together to make this camp a yearly tradition to help build and grow our own youth leaders here in the South.

Check out some photos and videos from the Camp.

For more information on the Camp or to find out how you can learn more about GSSC’s exciting opportunities and trainings please contact us at info@georgiasafeschoolscoalition.org.

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