Queer Youth Speak Out

Students Share Their Stories in Today’s Florida

Queer Youth Speak out event header. Group of SHINE Team students at a team building event..

Queer Youth Speak Out Event Details: 

Who: All community members

When: Thursday, November 2, 2023 from 6 - 8 pm

Where: Naples United Church of Christ - Beverly Hall | 5200 Crayton Rd, Naples, FL 34103

While we hope you will join us in person, there will be an option to attend virtually.

Challenges Faced by Queer Students

Queer Youth Speak Out is an event co-hosted by GLSEN Collier County and the Interfaith Alliance of Southwest Florida. Collier County, with its picturesque beaches and vibrant communities, is home to a diverse student population. Among them are queer students who, in recent times, have faced an increasingly challenging school environment due to new legislative measures and anti-LGBTQ policies. Yet, in the face of adversity, many of our community’s queer students are rising above. They're forging connections, creating safe spaces, and sharing their stories to shed light on the real-life implications of these policies in our schools and throughout the community.

A transgender student who is now a senior recalls coming out as nonbinary in ninth grade and feeling embraced by their peers. They felt safe and affirmed by their teachers. However, with new laws and policies, school no longer feels safe for them. They and many of their peers live in constant fear of which teacher will insist on misgendering them or which students will harass them because they look, think, or act differently than they are “supposed to.” Other students go all day without eating or drinking because they don’t have access to a bathroom in which they feel safe. Many simply avoid school altogether.

The Resilience of Queer Youth

On November 2, three high school students will share personal stories about the effects today’s social and political landscapes have on them directly. Their stories will bring you to tears as you grapple with the fear, the pain, and the turmoil our queer youth face on a daily basis. You will come to terms with how this environment has been created, and how it permeates our schools. And you will have the chance to ask them questions through a Q&A at the end of the event. But most of all, you will walk away amazed.

The resilience of today’s queer youth is nothing short of inspiring. These students are not merely navigating the educational landscape; they are striving to survive while also actively shaping a more inclusive future for those who come after them. Their tales underscore the importance of understanding and empathy, especially in times of societal division.

A Call to Action

As the debate around LGBTQ+ rights continues here in Florida, the stories of these students stand as powerful reminders. Behind every policy, every piece of legislation, are real individuals with genuine experiences. These students are not just defined by their queer identities; they are trailblazers, advocates, and above all, they represent hope in the face of adversity. And it is time that everyone in our community listens as they share their stories.

"Empowering queer youth is not just about amplifying their stories; it's about acknowledging their existence, validating, their experiences, and shaping a world where love and acceptance are not bound by labels."

Daniel, GLSEN Collier SHINE Coordinator