Saturday, February 04, 2012

"...does it get better?" Panel

On Thursday night at the invitation of one of my students, Ryan L., I participated in "...does it get better?," a panel discussion examining the widely known It Gets Better series of videos and sponsored by Project ShoutOUT, an undergraduate student group. The panel also included Tony Alvarado-Rivera, former director of the mentorship program at the Broadway Youth Center in Chicago; and Bonnie Wade and Malaundja Gayles, both community organizers from the Uhlich Children's Advantage Network Home Host Program.

"...does it get better" panel, sponsored by Shout Out, at NU 

The university's student newspaper, The Daily Northwestern, covered the event quite well, so I'll only note that the all of the panelists pressed the question of whether it "gets better," and for whom, and how, especially given the multiple challenges many LGBTQ people, especially young, working-class and poor, gender variant and queer, and geographically and cultural isolated young people, may face. The other three panelists spoke primarily about their experiences working with young people, and they emphasized the necessity of listening to them and taking into account their needs rather than imposing or predesigning systems and structures into which they might be fit. We all called into question the American myth of individualism, the ethnocentrism and hidden classism, and the myth of a particularly narrow kind of adolescence that the "It Gets Better" videos promote. For my part I read a version of the piece I wrote and posted on this blog back in October 2010, in which I suggested how people might grow stronger, and thus perhaps things might get better. The questions from the students and faculty in the audience were thoughtful and productive, and it cheered me to see how many of them really do want to make the world a better place for all of us.

Let me offer my deep thanks to the organizers and my fellow panelists, as well as to all the students who showed up to listen to and engage us in a conversation. 

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