It’s back-to-school time, at least in a way that 2020 is letting us have a back-to-school time. Guardians, educators, and students are each doing their best to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, navigate the digital divide, attempting to create and engage in an educational experience that is anything but normal. For LGBTQ youth who may be still stuck at home with unsupportive families, disconnected from their LGBTQ peers and GSAs, these challenges are even harder to bear.
The pandemic physically separated us, so our programs quickly adapted to online virtual spaces. While obviously not the same as gathering in person, our youth programs saw an increase in attendance and requests for expanded programming. Thankfully our dedicated staff and volunteers were ready and able to answer that call. We’ve increased the number of days we open up our virtual spaces for youth-led curriculum, peer support, and leadership development. Youth-led programming this year has brought us exciting new partnerships with the San Diego Zoo as well as intensely meaningful conversations around Denim Day and white allyship within the Black Lives Matter movement.
One of our favorite youth programs we put on each year is the Pride Youth Leadership Academy where youth from all across San Diego and Imperial Counties come together to learn about our history, legal protections, LGBTQ resources, and develop leadership skills. The program has now been around long enough that we’ve seen youth involved in the academy and our programs go on to make change in the schools, to succeed in higher education, and even become professionals in LGBTQ nonprofit sector.
This year’s Youth Leadership Academy is taking on a virtual format, expanding to two days, and we’re adding on a parent/caregiver track, and I couldn’t be more proud of our youth leaders, staff, and partners who are working to make this happen. Even in the face of this pandemic we are all leaning in to lift up the next generation of LGBTQ leaders, and we know that as we support our LGBTQ youth, Together We Rise.
Fernando Zweifach López
San Diego Pride
Sign up for the Youth Leadership Academy here.
Learn more about all of our youth programs here.