MTN Organizing Meeting Recap: Supporting LGBTQ Youth in our Community

On Wednesday, May 22 Moving the Needle hosted a wonderful discussion on the ways our community and schools support LGBTQ youth, and how can we help.

MTN steering committee member, social worker, and Bryn Mawr College professor Sara Bressi gave an engaging and informed presentation on the importance of the language we use; how at risk LGBTQ youth (and adults) are for depression, suicide, substance abuse, and more; and the vital importance of both family and non-family support and acceptance. She also reviewed the Wallingford Swarthmore School Board’s new policy (June 2018): “Gender Expansive and Transgender Students: Ensuring Equity and Nondiscrimination”—explaining its strengths and highlighting a few places that need work (bathrooms, early education, staff training, among others).

Pediatrician and proud parent Dr. Melissa Kennedy spoke about her family’s experience as her son Oliver, now in middle school, began transitioning: clothes, hair cuts, visits to the CHOP gender identity clinic, conversations, questions, tears, support from teachers and friends and school administrators, a name change. She expressed her gratitude for living in such a supportive community and talked about further changes she’d like to see in the schools.

School social worker and Swarthmore Borough Council member Sarah Graden shared local resources for LGBTQ kids and families and reminded the group that, although in some ways acceptance of LGBTQ people is increasing, bias crimes are also on the rise. She explained the history of Swarthmore’s Human Relations Commission (HRC) and the recent expansion of its role to include education and outreach, and to help the borough and schools develop a coordinated response when future bias incidents arise. The HRC is looking for more volunteers, so contact Sarah if you’re interested!

MTN is on hiatus until fall, when we will dive into election efforts. We look forward to turning the Delaware County Council blue in November!