DENVER — Pride month is the time we remember the riots that happened at the Stonewall Inn in June of 1969. We honor LGBTQ+ activists and recognize the accomplishments and work that still needs to be done.
The Youth PRIDE Coalition in Denver is working to make sure adults know how to communicate with the community’s youth in Denver.
On June 1, the coalition launched their PRIDE Toolkit aimed at helping those in and outside the community.
“Our focus is on improving the lives of LBGTQ+ youth in Denver,” said Jessie Shay, coalition facilitator.
The PRIDE Coalition started in 2016 and for the past five years, volunteers have gathered data directly from the youth in Denver's LGBTQ+ community.
“What we are hearing from young folk is we as adults are not doing our jobs and are not showing up like we need to,” said Shay.
The organization decided one solution would be a toolkit addressing some of the issues young queer people face, and offering adults who work with these youth access to resources so they can be better informed and educated.
The toolkit is broken into three sections. There's a section for a comprehensive database for resources in Denver. There’s also a section that offers queer 101 guidance that shows adults how to properly use pronouns.
“For example, I use she/her pronouns and it’s very important that I share what pronouns I use because young people need that space to share that information for them as well,” said Shay.
The third section is comprehensive research. This focuses on specifics like bullying and LGBTQ+ suicide.
"There is an increase of bullying and suicide in queer youth here in Denver and Colorado as a whole," Shay said.
A 2019 Healthy Kids Colorado survey found that 17% percent of gay or lesbian youth and 14% percent of bisexual youth in Denver were more likely to report being bullied electronically compared to 8% percent of heterosexual youth.
22% percent of bisexual youth were more likely have reported being bullied at school compared to 11% of straight youth, according to the survey. Queer youth also said they need more community representation from all races and genders.
“I as a white person only represent a small part of the community and making sure that we try and include as many people on the coalition as possible so young people have different folks to look to for representation,” said Shay.
The coalition recognizes where we once were, how far we've come, and puts an immense emphasis on the work that still needs to be done.
“There was this push for gay marriage and I think a lot of our culture felt like 'oh well they have gay marriage, so cool, queer people are good, we are all accepted.' But in reality, just like pronouns and bathrooms, it's one small part of systemic homophobia and transphobia that exist in our culture,” said Shay. “We have so much work to do in our society."
The toolkit launched as an instrument for adults to use so they can better understand queer youth and help them know they are not in this alone. The coalition partners with Denver Public Health.
“Young people are resilient and smart and have the brilliant ideas and solutions to help their communities on their own, said Shay. “As a queer person and adult, it’s my job to support them and not to tell them how to fix things and assume that I’m a savior. My job is to amplify their voices”.
The organization says young people are considered those 12-25 years old. So queer youth are those in grade school, college, and entering into the work force.
The coalition is always looking for members, allies and volunteers.
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