I love Outloud. I love that it brings together some youth who may not have another safe place. Those who may not be heard or those that think no one is listening. That was part of the focus tonight. We wanted to show the kids that someone is listening, so we had a Community Development Coordinator from Community & Social Development (formerly FCSS) who came to talk about how much they care. She asked what everyone thought of St. Albert and the services available for LGBTQ youth and youth in general. The topics raced around from youth service to Mental Health, from school administration and teachers to bullying and finding good school supports.
I was inspired to hear that most kids found at least one person they felt was on their side. Many did say that their experiences with both the Catholic and Public School system was severely lacking in several areas. Our guest is an employee of the City of St. Albert and vowed that she would take the information to higher levels to be heard. The youth were happy to hear that, but also took it with a grain of salt. They have heard this promise before and don’t understand why change is so slow. Several of the Outloud members do not live in St. Albert and venture in from Edmonton and outlying areas. Some drive as much as 3 hours to attend these meetings and meet with “their people” as I have heard many times.
I still believe St. Albert is an excellent place to live and as we build community for LGBTQ folks we continue to search for equality. That was the main message that I heard from all the youth in the room. No one wants a special seat or a segregated place for them only. The youth we have attending Outloud just want to be respected like everyone else. No one talked about storming city hall, public nudity, or other stereotypes. All these youth want is the same thing you want, to be comfortable in their own city.