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Preserving Their Dignity: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Students Experiencing Homelessness

Preserving Their Dignity: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Students Experiencing Homelessness

Date of the Event: August 04, 2022 | Kailanya Brailey, Jessica Grotevant Webster, Lily Klam, Madelyn Morrison, Michelle Nutter, Ian Rashleigh McNally, Osimiri Sprowal, Marianna Stepniak, Nikevia Thomas
Show Notes:

A recent Chapin Hall University study found that LGBTQIA+ young people are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQIA+ youth. Why is this happening? What resources are available and how do we support these students? In this webinar, part of our “Are ALL the Children Well?” series, two panelists answered those questions and shared strategies and resources for families, schools, and communities to employ when advocating for LGBTQIA+ students who experience homelessness.

Marianna Stepniak:

All right. So for everyone joining, welcome. We’re so glad to have you here. Please add in the chat, your name, your state entity and your role. And we’re going to start reading through those out loud. We’re so glad you’re here today. All right. So we have Christine Frederick. Welcome Christine. Stacy Shields from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tennessee Valley in Alabama. Liz Rain from Oregon. Mel Roe, Ohio. Amber from Utah. Chr...

Marianna Stepniak:

All right. So for everyone joining, welcome. We’re so glad to have you here. Please add in the chat, your name, your state entity and your role. And we’re going to start reading through those out loud. We’re so glad you’re here today. All right. So we have Christine Frederick. Welcome Christine. Stacy Shields from Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tennessee Valley in Alabama. Liz Rain from Oregon. Mel Roe, Ohio. Amber from Utah. Christine’s from the Baltimore Design School. And how I said Baltimore, you can tell I’m from the area. Jenna White Parent Advocate and PTA Leader. Welcome everyone. Steve Rosalyn Pace from Connecticut. Ally Garosh, apologies if I’m messing up last names, reading these through out loud, Massachusetts. Paula, also from Martha’s Vineyard. Wow, welcome everyone. We are from all over here. This is fantastic. I’m going to turn-

Michelle Nutter:

[inaudible 00:01:08] from Chicago and Anna from San Francisco. Looks like we have people from all over the country tuning in today.

Marianna Stepniak:

All right Michelle, do you want to get us started?

Michelle Nutter:

Absolutely. Thank you Marianna. Welcome everyone. Thank you so much for joining us today for this important webinar. You have tuned into the, Preserving Their dignity: Supporting LGBTQIA+ Students Experiencing Homelessness Webinar. This webinar is the second installment of a four part, Are All The Children Well, Homeless Education And Family Engagement Webinar Series. We will share information on how you can view a recording of the first installment and information about the two remaining upcoming segments, later in the webinar.

Next you’re going to see our vision statement. This really tells us who we are and what we support here at MAEC. We are champions of innovation, collaboration and equity and everything we do, we do through those lenses.

On the next slide, you’ll see our agenda and it’s a really ambitious agenda, given the topic. I think we could spend days, months or honestly years exploring this topic. It is just such a rich topic. There’s so much for us to learn, so much for us to know. But in our session today, we’re going to give you some idea of what it is like to be an LGBTQIA+ youth, who is experiencing homelessness. So we’re going to start with the voices of impacted individuals. We’re going to look at why is this happening right now. What supports are available, what resources are out there. And then, we have set aside a time for questions and answers, prior to the closing of this webinar. As Marianna indicated, we are not utilizing the Raise Hand feature, but you can type your questions into the chat box and we will be monitoring those. Some questions we will be able to answer right in the chat. Others will be elevated to be answered live by our panelists during this session.

Just a little bit of reminders around etiquette for our webinar today. We do encourage you to use that chat feature, to engage with other participants. We recommend that you click on the Chat Icon at the bottom or top toolbar of your screen. And as we’ve mentioned already, don’t use that Raise Hand Function. It’s not going to be working for us today. And as I also already mentioned, there will be a Q&A time. You can put those questions into the Q&A Box or into the Chat Box. We will be reviewing both.

We have live captioning available for this webinar, so that you can see them. To enable or disable live captioning, you can turn them on or off. Live captions should show up on your screen automatically. To turn them off, you would go to the Webinar Controls at the bottom of your Zoom window, select the Live Transcript or Close Caption Button, and then select Hide Subtitles. To view them again, go back to that Webinar Control Panel and instead of hiding the subtitles, select Show Subtitles instead.

Marianna Stepniak:

Thanks Michelle. So now we’re going to spend a little time introducing ourselves, our wonderful behind the scenes crew, our panelists presenters for today and ourselves.

So first as MAEC, as you can see here, we have our Vision, Mission, Core Values and Areas of Work. We were founded in 1992 as an education nonprofit, dedicated to increasing access to a high quality education, for culturally, linguistically and economically diverse learners. Our vision is that we envision a day when all students have equitable opportunities to learn and achieve at high levels. That’s a big reason why we’re having the conversation today, specifically about how to support LGBTQIA+ youth who are homeless, because that is a large population to address in this issue.

On the next slide, we’ll talk a little bit more about two of our largest projects. The first one is the Center For Education Equity, which is one of four regional equity assistant centers from across the country that are funded by the US Department of Education. And the other one is the Collaborative Action For Family Engagement or CAFE. CAFE Is MAEC’s statewide family engagement center that covers both Pennsylvania and Maryland. And these two projects are coming together today, to work on this webinar. As we see in this image, CEE serves many states in our region, from Maine all the way down to Kentucky and West Virginia, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. And CAFE, our family engagement program serves both Maryland and Pennsylvania.

So we’ll take a moment now to recognize and thank our Webinar Support Team. These are the folks who are making sure everything’s running smoothly, getting the chat up and working. So first, we have Ian Rashleigh McNally, who is our Evaluation Intern and he is working today as operations and tech support. We have Lily Klam, who is our Family Engagement Intern and she is working on social media support, live tweeting this whole thing. We have Kailanya Brailey, who is a Senior Education Equity Specialist at MAEC and she’s on Chat Box support. As is Jessica Grotevant Webster, who is a Senior Family Engagement Specialist. Thank you so much team for making sure everything goes smoothly.

On the next slide, we have us the facilitators. My name is Marianna Stepniak and I’m a Content Specialist at MAEC. And Michelle, do you want to introduce yourself briefly?

Michelle Nutter:

Sure. Michelle Nutter. I am a Senior Educational Equity Consultant here with MAEC.

Marianna Stepniak:

And we’re very happy and proud to be presenting today. We have two exceptional panelists with us today, who we will go into their bios in just a minute. Right now, I’m just going to keep it very brief. We have Madelyn Morrison, who is the Director of the Brian … Excuse me, the Bryson Institute of the Attic Youth Center. And we have Osimiri Sprowal, who is a Coordinator of Training at the Ali Forney Center. We are so grateful to have them with us today. In these next slides, we’re going to talk a little bit about our objectives, as well as some key terms.

So all of you are here today, probably because you’ve registered through our registration link, and so you’ve seen these. We’re first going to prioritize hearing testimonials for impacted individuals. Then we’ll explore data on LGBTQIA+ students who experience homelessness. And as a side note, this series was originally imagined to be a three part series. The first one is a general overview, the next two sessions as a CoP, but based on the overwhelming evidence that LGBTQIA+ youth are one of the largest populations impacted by homelessness, we thought it was vital that we include a session on this topic. We’ll also identify red flags and risk factors for LGBTQIA+ kids who experience homelessness and gather resources, which we’ll also send out after this webinar.

Some key terms before we get started. We are going to be using more terms beyond this list today, but here’s a basic primary. These words include things that are specific to the populations that we serve. Also, how people treat students who are LGBTQIA+ and homeless. And so I’ll briefly read through these. This might be a slide to hold onto for later, if you have a chance to view this webinar.

Adultism, which both of our panels are going to talk about, has to do with behaviors and attitudes that are based on the assumption that adults are better than young people, and that they’re entitled to act upon young people without their permission.

LGBTQIA+ is an umbrella term. You might have heard it as LGBT, LGBTQ and we wanted to spell it out right here, that LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex and Aromantic/Asexual with a + at the end, so that anyone who has another identity that expands that spectrum but isn’t listed here, is included.

Lived experience. Both of our panelists will be speaking from lived experience today, which means that they have personal knowledge about what they’re talking about, gained through direct firsthand involvement.

Neurodivergence, which includes autism, which I think we’ll be talking about here as well, refers to the diversity or variation of cognitive functioning of people. There is no normal. There is a wide spectrum of what it looks like to think and act.

Trauma refers to an event, series of events or set of circumstances that is experienced by an individual as physically or emotionally harmful or life threatening, and that has lasting adverse effects. Sometimes the word trauma is thrown around. We’re using it in a very literal sense today to talk about trauma.

Youth experiencing homelessness. This is a brief definition, but there are many more that can fall under this umbrella. Here, we’re using it to describe a person under 25 years of age, who doesn’t have a fixed regular and adequate nighttime resident. Other definitions change the age. It changes some of the qualifications, but we want you to expand the way you think about homelessness as not necessarily living in a particular location, having support or not having support, but just broadening how you think about that term. And now at this point, I’m going to turn it over to Michelle to introduce this section.

Michelle Nutter:

So, as we had mentioned earlier, we really wanted to center the voices of impacted individuals who could speak from their lived experiences about what it feels like to go through this trauma and ongoing trauma. And so our first panelist, let me go ahead and introduce Madelyn.

Madelyn Morrison is the Director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center. Madelyn is a Black trans woman born and raised in Philly and is the director of the Bryson Institute at the Attic Youth Center. A trans activist and acts as a force of resistance to discrimination, injustice and violence against Black and brown folks of all intersections. Madelyn has been advocating for Black and brown LGBTQIA+ youth and all queer and trans youth since she was 21 years old. She first came to the Attic Youth Center as a runaway at 14 years old, and the Attic Youth Center has been invaluable in changing her life trajectory.

Madelyn? If you could go ahead and just share your thoughts about the experiences that you had, that led you to the Youth Center and just share with us what you have today.

Madelyn Morrison:

Thank you and hello everyone. Thank you so much. So that is a part of my story. I grew up in a complicated household, especially when I was young. I want to say around nine or 10 years old, when I started to really understand who I was as a young person, but not really being able to name things like my transness, but that showed up in a lot of verbal abuse and a lot of physical abuse at home. So I started running away actually at 12 years old. Me and my mother were going through some really tough stuff. And on top of me having suicide ideations and attempting suicide more than once, things started to be very, very difficult at home.

So that’s when the running away started. But at 14, my guidance counselor put me in the direction of the Attic Youth Center and I was able to go there and find people, young people who were like me, and to meet them, to meet Carrie … Thank you. To meet them, to meet Carrie, to see this new family that I was creating with these people. It literally saved my life. I do not know if I would be alive today talking to everyone or even having the story to tell, if I did not find that place, because I really didn’t have anywhere to go. So meeting Carrie Jacobs, meeting the staff there at the time, the people who were encouraging me to stay in the school, who were encouraging me to keep focused on my future and reminding me of my promise. These are things that I was not necessarily told.

Now, I was a straight A student. I did very well in school, but a lot of those things were ignored. My mother, she was a single mother raising five children on her own. And I found myself at a young age, trying to understand or try to justify or explain away a lot of the neglect, but it just came to a head with the physical abuse and the verbal abuse, and I couldn’t take it anymore. So I’m grateful to have found the Attic Youth Center, because they inspired me to have a voice and speak for other young people like me. I did not have people there for me in that sort of way coming up, and I thank the Attic Youth Center for teaching me to become that person for other young people who came up after me, the way I wish someone was there for me, and they really started this journey.

I started with this group called this Speakers Bureau and we would go to different middle schools and high schools and talk to students about our everyday issues, as queer students in the public school system in Philadelphia. And some years later, I come back to the Attic Youth Center, a grown person transitioned this new woman, this new life. And I get to come back to what once was the Speakers Bureau, which is now the Bryson Institute and get to direct it and create my own educational materials that I can go in and do this work and educate these organizations and these communities on how to show up for our young queer and trans folks, young people in this community.

I can’t believe my life took at this full circle sort of turn where I really got the opportunity to be able to do this work and be here for these generations, but I had this organization to think. They literally saved my life. They literally pulled me out of the fire, because I didn’t know back then where I was headed, but I know that it was a dark place and I had no other choice and the Attic Youth Canter gave me a choice. I’m grateful for that.

Michelle Nutter:

Madelyn, thank you so much for sharing that story with us.

Madelyn Morrison:

You’re welcome.

Michelle Nutter:

Wow. It’s just so invaluable for us to be able to hear these stories, to help us to understand the depth of need and what we all can be doing to be supportive of others. We have a video we’re going to play now to share another person’s story. This is Travis. We’re going to hear his story. He was originally from New Haven, Connecticut and he was disowned and kicked out of his home at age 17, because he is gay. So let’s hear Travis’s story directly from him.


There shouldn’t be a reason for you to not love your son. In my mom’s house, it’s God first and then family. In my family, it’s just like a man is supposed to be masculine and a woman is supposed to be feminine. Since I was raised in the church, I honestly thought being gay was wrong.

They gathered around the family table and they signed a piece of paper basically saying, I’m no longer a part of this family. And if I step foot on the property, they’ll call the police. And I’m basically disowned and they don’t recognize me as my mom’s child anymore.

I just walked around for hours and hours, till I was just was like, “Okay, I need to fall asleep.” And I found this one street and it was really quiet. There was no one else there, and there was a little corner and I was like, “Wow, I’m about to do this right now. I’m about to sleep on this dirty ass sidewalk.”

So it’s like, it’s bad enough being homeless, but if you’re homeless and you’re a youth, or you’re homeless and you’re gay, or let’s say if you’re homeless and you’re a person of color or you’re trans, it just keeps putting you more in danger.

People will say, “Oh, you have to really try to be homeless to be actually homeless.” Because apparently, there’s so many resources out there and it’s so easy to get back on your feet and stuff. In a city such as LA, since there’s such a high population of homelessness here, beds are being filled up like that. You can’t even get into a winter shelter.

I can’t be mad, because if you stay mad, you just become bitter. And it’s like, I just got to remind myself that I’m out here across the country. I have my own family that loves and support me here. I got what I need. Family is people that love and support you. It’s not always your bloodline.

I just had enough of fighting every day, waking up. When you’re in a place where people don’t care, you don’t have to pretend or act or put up your guard or anything. You can just relax and just be chill. Because when people don’t care you’re gay, you don’t care you’re gay. You have pride in it. You’re proud of who you are as a person.

Marianna Stepniak:

Thank you Ian, for sharing that video. We’re digging into conversations today folks, and I think everyone so far is absolutely living up to this. Thank you for sharing the love and the kindness and the chat, because that’s a lot of what we’re going to be talking about today.

It’s my pleasure to introduce Osimiri Sprowal as our next speaker. Osimiri is an LGBT+ Policy and Homeless Rights Activist and a four time survivor of homelessness. Presently, they work full time as the coordinator of training at the Ali Forney Center. Additionally, they serve on the Executive Committee of the National Youth Forum on Homelessness NYFH and the A Way Home America AWHA, Leadership Body and Policy Team. Their work center is Afro-Indigenous, disabled and queer and trans communities. Most recently, they were awarded the 2022 Marshall Scholar and they’ll be relocating to the UK to further their education and continue their work internationally. Over to you Osimiri.

Osimiri Sprowal:

Hi everyone. Thanks for joining us here today on this webinar. Can everyone hear me okay? I just always check audio. Okay, awesome. Thank you. Yes. As far as what’s important for me to say about my own life, I do think it’s kind of really important to acknowledge, and this is something I always think about is that, talking about your story and your life and very personal and traumatic things, even for the sake of educating other people is always a lot of work. So I think what I kind of want to say that to me personally, is really important for folks in this space and watching this space in the future, is sort of how people find out about being trans and that memory or experience. Which in my case, the first time I ever learned about or understood trans people as a concept, I was maybe eight or nine.

I was watching Maury and it was an episode … For people who are not familiar with Maury. It’s similar to what Jerry Springer’s, like the paternity test guy. But this episode was specifically a game, and the point of the game was to guess whether or not the women on the show were trans. They didn’t use the word trans. They did not at any point use accurate or gender oriented language to affirm these women. And it kind of goes without saying that the whole point of this game basically is to judge cis and trans women in this case, on how much they, “Looked like women.” And that was the first time I ever watched something and then processed. I was like, “Oh. Oh, that’s a thing. That’s a concept.” My first introduction to the concept of the fact that I exist was a joke. And I feel like it’s really important, and this is something I elaborate on pretty extensively, about as extensively as I can in 15 minutes.

In the part of this webinar that I get to facilitate, is that more often than not, it’s kind of the first moment or introduction of the concept of being trans or being gay or wherever folks may fall on the LGBT spectrum is mockery or in implication that they’re not normal. And I think for me personally, that memory of sets the tone and the framework for most of what I do professionally, is as we shared earlier, sort of trying to frame and ensure that other people’s sort of self concept around what it means to be the kind of person that they are, that I am, that we are isn’t a joke, and is actually something very beautiful and inspiring and powerful.

So that’s something that I always sort try to leave and instill people with in my work, especially as far as youth advocacy goes. There’s a lot of really wonderful organizations that I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of, but in short kind of, not getting into the details of when I ran away from home, because frankly I don’t feel like talking about that. But after I ran away from home, I got my start similar to other many other folks in our field, working with an organization that I tried to get services from. I’m also born and raised in Philly, which was Valley Youth House. I tried to get housing services through them and I wasn’t able to move forward in my application process, because I’m disabled and I can’t work the types of jobs that most people in my age range. This was four or five years ago, so this is maybe 2015, 2016.

Most people in my age range can work, because those are easily physically intensive jobs. So I couldn’t move forward in my application, but I did join my local Youth Action board and started doing advocacy work from there. I got to help design the first sort of Host Home, which is kind of like a rotational housing model that we had in the City of Philadelphia, that was focused on an LGBT people. I became a True Colors United Fellow, which is a fellowship that for young LGBT people, who’ve experienced homelessness. If you know any youth who would want to apply for that, please reach out to me because I’ve done it and it’s an amazing opportunity, totally changed my life. Started doing work nationally. Got on the board of directors, maybe two to three years within doing the work that I’m doing and now I have a full-time job.

Five years ago I couldn’t work. But I think it’s I important and powerful what I do want to say in the time that I have as far as my story and what I think is important to tell people about myself, is that becoming the service providers often, one of the few on the books and legal paths that a lot of, especially queer and trans people of color have to sort of turn around, being sort of stuck as far as resources and money goes. So I say all this to say that, especially if there are youth in the space where people who are parenting young people and educators, that it’s totally possible for young people who unfortunately have or are experiencing homelessness, to somehow turn that into an opportunity to do a lot of really important and beautiful work. And I’m really glad I get to share space with another facilitator, who’s also been able to do that. So I think, I’m going to assume I’m out of time, but that’s kind of what I have to share with y’all about my life.

Marianna Stepniak:

Thanks Osimiri. And something that you said that’s really sticking with me is, the first introduction to the concept that I exist was a joke. Who I am isn’t a joke. It’s actually something really inspiring and powerful and beautiful. I’m really sticking with that. We’re going to hear more from Osimiri in a little bit. And first, we’re going to turn to Madelyn who will walk us through this question. “We just saw a stat that LGBTQIA+ kids are 120% more likely to be homeless. Why is this happening?” Madelyn?

Madelyn Morrison:


Marianna Stepniak:

We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

Madelyn Morrison:

Yes. Thank you Osimiri, because every time you speak it’s just that power. So I really appreciate it. Why is this happening? The question is, where do we start? Because we could talk about … I mean a lot of it is rooted in religion. Wait, have I started? It is my camera on? Yes it is. Okay. So yes.

So a lot of it is rooted in religion. And if we know the history about Pennsylvania, this country … Well, we can just focus on Pennsylvania now. It’s very certain. So a lot of that permeates through our neighborhoods, our families, our traditions. And even what you heard from all of us, this is not something that is uncommon. It’s one of those things where, there’s this intersection of religious dogma, this complete disregard of seeing children as whole people, as persons people, period, and this obsession with control, especially when it comes from parents who have such deep roots and these kinds of religious traditions, social standards.

So they feel like in their mind, it is the right thing to do to remove their own flesh and blood from their household, from safety, from nourishment, from nurturing because they don’t meet a particular model that they have for them. Which says a lot because they don’t take the agency of children seriously, of their children seriously. We know that those conversations are not happening in the home. And if they are, especially if they come from the child, it is often met with some level of resistance, some level of verbal or emotional or even mental abuse, when they need to talk to them about who they are and about what they are feeling. So there is a huge disconnect and there is a lot of uprooting that needs to be done, but that really defines why this is happening and why is it happening so much?

It’s because people really stand by what they have been fed to believe in. Even in the video with Travis, he says his mother says, “It’s God first then family.” I want people to think about this. And I know that this may be controversial when I say it, but I wouldn’t be true to my work if I didn’t. I’m a firm believer of people being able to bring evidence to corroborate stories. And when they talk about trans people, queer people not existing up until a certain time, trans people, non-binary people not existing at all, these are real tangible individuals with real tangible lives that they can tell you about. And these people who erase them, normally stand by this deity that at best, for as long as we know, is not something that none of us have ever seen.

In fact, this idea of God is supposed to be this personal and spiritual path of reaching this higher level of self. Neither of these concepts that these people reach, they cannot bring a physical deity to corroborate this, the story of theirs of what they need to standby. And they clearly have not reached their higher level of self to understand the importance and compassion of raising your child and what that means to love and nurture them.

So we find out that a lot of and trans youth are out here in the streets because there is a deliberate resistance to loving these children, these young people fully. And I know that for a fact because it’s happened to me, it’s happened to my friends. It’s happened to those who I’ve taken in as my children in this community. So I often had to step up and be a mother to them that they did not have. And people really want to stand by that while they’re real, tangible, real children are in here suffering in these cold streets, often alone and with no resources and really struggling to survive. And I can’t wrap my head around why they would think that is the right thing to do, because the data is there and it’s heartbreaking. So maybe they need to see that, but that’s why it’s happening.

Oh, do we go to the next slide? I’m sorry. Hello? Are we there? Oh wait, do we … Yes? Okay, hold on. Maybe I need to do. Yes, okay. So, we’re good. We’re caught up. Just to make sure that my screen was good. So yeah. So each year, Philadelphia Homelessness Outreach Organizations engage in more than 6,000 individuals … Hold on, please. Seriously? I’m working. Sorry y’all.

So, as we’re looking here in the chart, approximately 8,206 unduplicated people accessed emergency shelter in Philadelphia. During the 2019-2020 school year, 3,800 children and youth in Philadelphia experienced homelessness. So let’s just say that of the 3,800 of those young people in Philadelphia who are currently students who are experiencing homelessness, let’s say about 1,800 of them are queer and trans living here, within this city. And let’s just assume that all of them have intersecting identities, that through many of these institutions, many of these systems that are currently in place, are also disenfranchising them, and also hurting them and under-serving them in these multiple ways. That alone is something that should make us want to act and want to really hold both these institutions and these communities that abandon these young people, possible. But then we would have to talk about the systems in power and how they really siphon resources from these same neighborhoods, where a lot of these young people are coming from and experiencing homelessness.

So this is really compounded. I know that this is the focus, but this is really far more compounded than just, why are there’s so many homeless youth? And there’s also a question about these neighborhoods they come from, the communities that they want to thrive in. Why aren’t these things happening? And that is because there is something about holding these systems in power, these institutions accountable of not showing up for our young people. And part of it is because they don’t like children. They don’t want to take care of them. If they can use them as some sort of political pull to move them upward, then that’s one thing. But actually doing the work within their positions of power to pour into these communities and pour resources into them, so that our young people can thrive is something totally different. So can we go to the next slide please?

Yes. So, I pulled these statistics from The Trevor Project. They were doing a Mental Health Study for LGBTQIA+ youth during the pandemic in 2020. And as you can see with the other statistics, with 68% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. 40% of LGBTQ youth reported engaging in self harm. But also 29% of LGBTQ youth have experienced homelessness, been kicked out or run away. So I want to talk about this and I don’t want to take up too much time, but I think this is important because this is a percentage all across the country. We may have even experienced that percentage with the youth that come to the Attic Youth Center in Philadelphia during the 2020 pandemic, when our nation was shut down. But a lot of these young people who were coming to our agency were having some very volatile domestic environments, home environments, where they found themselves being put out during the pandemic.

So keep in mind, we already had a pretty poor response to the pandemic in the first place. On top of us kind of scrambling around, trying to figure out how we were going to continue to keep education going for our young people, making sure that they had supplies, all the things that they needed, which means also supplying the families and understanding and seeing what the families needed and making that assessment. On top of us, not necessarily doing everything that was possible to make sure that young people are in safe environment. So all of that came to a head in 2020 and what the Attic Youth Center was faced with, was having to figure out how we were going to house, I want to say, about 15 or 16 of our youth at the center, who were experiencing homelessness at the time. So we were lucky that we were working with host homes and they were able to help us get all of the young people housed, and a lot of the young people who had parents who are more accepting and understanding even took them in.

So we were lucky to be able to do that, but not every young person who was experiencing this in 2020 was. So really, while we were happy for one victory, it was heartbreaking to understand that, “Wow, we really need to do more. Wow, the Attic Youth Center really needs more money, so we can apply and have more services and more resources to our youth.” I can’t tell you how many years we had been talking about getting extra space, so we can start being able to provide housing for our young people, because we know that that has been a constant need since the inception of the Attic in 1993. I was one of them. I was one of the young people who needed that kind of help back then. So we’ve been praying for this opportunity, but this time it hit us in the face in 2020.

So when I saw these statistics with the Trevor Project, I said, “Wow, I can definitely relate to this.” Because we really had to work hard with very little resources, very little, and just really put things in perspective with both the importance of really paying attention to our young people and what they’re going through when they leave our agencies, and just everything that we really could be fighting for so that we could do more. And the choke-hold that we’re in, when we try to get that money to try to get those resources to our young people. It is very frustrating, because we want these statistics, we want these percentages to go down. We want to eradicate homelessness among our young people, but we need the money and we need the resources. And oftentimes it is so hard.

I can just go on and on about the issues of finding housing and making sure that we can get a place, and working with realtors who are more concerned with putting up more condos and shutting more people and more families out. There’s so many more complicated conversations that we can have, and how they directly affect our youth here in the city and with them experiencing homelessness. Oh, of course I have more, but we’ll talk later.

Michelle Nutter:

Madelyn, thank you so much for breaking down the many reasons to explain why LGBTQIA+ youth are experiencing homelessness at such elevated levels, and know how the pandemic just exacerbated everything. And I think, you probably alone could talk for a couple more days about all these issues.

Madelyn Morrison:


Michelle Nutter:

Not just the things that you mentioned, but we will be asking some questions to dig a little deeper in a little bit. But before we do that, I’m going to turn it over to Osimiri, who’s going to answer the question, “How do we support LGBTQIA+ students who are experiencing homelessness right now?” Osimiri?

Osimiri Sprowal:

What’s going on? Is my camera back? Let me …

Michelle Nutter:

Yep, we see you.

Osimiri Sprowal:

Okay cool, just making sure it’s all right. As you all know, full time virtual coordinator of training, so I always double check my camera and my audio, because those who know know, Zoom is unpredictable. But anyway, segueing here. So this PowerPoint is focused on obviously supporting LGBT+ homeless youth. The three points that I cover, which I’m going to go over in the objectives slide, which is right after this one. But just a preference, that these points were pulled from an article that was written by a colleague of mine at the Ali Forney Center. Their name is Nadia Swanson. So I just want to make sure to give Nadia their flowers. Nadia wrote an article, which is the framework for this presentation, which focuses on 10 sort of tips for educators who are trying to support LGBT+ homeless youth.

So the points that we’re going to focus on, that we’re going to cover in this mini presentation is, understanding familial rejection as a concept and sort of elaborating on that more in how familial rejection and lack of adequate support for parents–Yes I know, but hear me out here–We’ll get there. Often creates adverse health outcomes for LGBT youth and how service providers of all sorts, educators included here obviously, are imperative to implementing and disrupting that pattern, that Madelyn was able to eloquently point out as an ongoing issue in our communities.

Number two, we want to make sure that we’re understanding how the point that I sort of brought up in my personal story, as far as how homophobia and transphobia are normalized as passive forms of violence or as passive violence, which I will cover later on, are passive types of violence against young LGBT people. And I also cover how to report that violence in a way that is trauma informed.

So our third point that we do bring up and cover in this mini presentation is, understanding the importance of sex work in the LGBT+ community and in LGBT youth survival, because especially for queer and trans people of color and most emphatically Black trans women, this often is a means of income. And by not talking about it and avoiding talking about that, we’re actually making that worse and making it easier for people to be stigmatized, who need support. So we want to make sure that that’s something as educators that we’re aware of, so that we’re able to support our communities. Next slide, please.

So, imperative to understanding everything that I just said. I know I just said, this is what we want to talk about, and now I’m talking about something that’s none of what I just said, but bear with me. What’s imperative to understanding all of these systems, and again, something that was sort of hinted at earlier, but the technical term for it is what I want to address here is adultism. Hopefully folks in this space have already heard this term, but if you haven’t, quick definition is that adultism is the oppression experienced by children and young people at the hands of adult and adult produced/adult tailored systems. This is a quote from a anthropologist who studies adultism.

So what that means in layman’s terms is that, adultism is the larger cultural understanding that children should not be listened to, should not be heard, should not be respected, because people who have seniority of age kind of automatically are trusted and seen as being more knowledgeable, and seen as being the people who should be guiding and telling children what they should be doing. So as service providers and as educators, we want to make sure that we are not reinforcing systems of adultism.

For LGBT young people, adultism is uniquely important because a huge part of where adultism meets homophobia and transphobia is the notion that as a young LGBT person, you are not in charge of yourself. You are not in charge of your body. You’re not in charge of your medical care. And by denying or trying to control LGBT young people’s ability to express themselves as who they truly are, this often leads to things like people running away from home, as we’ve discussed and shared with you about our personal lives. This often leads to homelessness. This often leads to and creates a lot of the systems that we all hear, I would imagine, they’re trying to prevent.

Moving right along. I want to focus on interpersonal versus institutional adultism. So interpersonal adultism, as we might infer from the term is a one-on-one exchange between a young person or potentially even a group of young people where adultism is being practiced. So if, say for example, an LGBT child comes out to their parent and their parent assistant and their parents are like, “Oh, well it could just be a phase. You might grow out of it.” Right? That’s something that is commonly heard by LGBT young people. That is not just homophobic and transphobic. It’s also adultist, because you’re presuming due to that young person’s age, that they are enable of recognizing themselves as an LGBT person. So we want to make sure, obviously as parents, that we we’re not doing and saying things like that, not helpful. It’s also violent, which we’ll get into in a couple slides. But we also want to make sure as educators, that we are authentically collaborating with our youth and our young people.

So we want to make sure that when we’re working with young people, most especially LGBT youth, we’re collaborating with them authentically. We’re asking our young people, “Well, what do you need? What do you think? What is your perspective?” We want to make sure our young people are empowered in acknowledging that they are knowledgeable and yes, wants. People, okay who are able of making decisions, yes with support, yes with love, yes with guidance, but of making decisions about who they are and what that looks like for them.

Institutional adultism is what I call adultism, obviously at an institutional or organizational level. Oftentimes, not just an individual adult, but an entire institution can function sort of like a parent. What do I mean when I say that? So I mean, when you’re at school, obviously there’s a lot of rules. There’s procedures of behavior. Where you have to go, where you have to be, what you’re learning. All of that is being controlled and dictated in a way that yes, re-emphasizes adultism as a practice.

Of course, as an educator, there’s a certain level of freedom you have, as far as what materials you’re using, what trainings you’re using. But a lot of these things are pre-dictated, both to educators and to young people. So how do we fix that? What ways in which are we able to empower young people being aware of institutional adultism? Well, what things can your individual school change? For example, is it possible for people who are trans youth at your school to have their ID printed with their actual name on it, if they have a name that is not their dead name or is not their legal name? Is that possible? These are the types of questions that we want to make sure we’re asking ourselves at the institutional level. Are there gender neutral bathrooms at your school? What ways can your individual institution, unless God forbid you’re in a state that has outlawed those types of practices, which unfortunately is becoming super rampant right now. What ways in which can your institution or organization try and reemphasize and support young people in those structural ways? So let’s keep moving right along. Thank you.

So next slide please. So familial rejection, this is a hard one for me to talk about, because Lord I’ve been there and I write this slide from full lived, complete and pure lived expertise here on this slide now. So familial rejection, this is something we want to acknowledge, especially if we are operating as the adult supporting a young person. So oftentimes, familial rejection is a byproduct of a grief response to LGBT identity that a cis and/or het usually both parent is having to their child coming out, or rather informing them that they’re an LGBT person. So what do I mean when I say grief response? Because a lot of people are like, “Oh, well maybe they’re angry.” Or as Madelyn pointed out, “This may be religiously motivated.”

The reason why I use the term grief response here, is because grief does not always look the same. Grieving is not always being sad. For some people, grief looks angry. It looks like shock. It looks like a whole plethora of emotions. So oftentimes, because LGBT identities are stigmatized identities, cis parents have adverse grief responses to that information, and thus lash out at their child. So as people, as working professionals, people that work with children work with youth, we want to make sure that we are in a position ideally and an expert-like position to address and potentially mediate people who are in this state. So part of that, even if we ourselves individually, as a person if you are in that position or you’re navigating that, you’re like, “Oh see, I’m not qualified to do that.”

Okay. At the very least, and this is absolutely my approach there for teachers here, do you know what those resources are? Do you have a list? And I mean, a list. Do you have a handout of what are the resources available for family support in my area? What are the organizations, like the Attic Youth Center in my area that I know of, that I could recommend potentially to a parent who is navigating their internal feelings, about the fact that their child is LGBT, right? That has nothing to do with that young person, okay. That young person is beautiful and radiant and deserves all the love and support in the world. But if you are a person who has privilege or a person who assists, a person who has had whatever your internal biases are, that you’re dealing with around the fact that your child is queer, that is your own journey. And that is a journey you need to walk alone, away from your child.

Our objective is to make it so that young LGBT people are not the people educating, coddling, emotionally supporting their parents through their homophobia and transphobia. Because I promise you, it will make them want to run away from home, because that’s what happened to me, and that’s what happens to lots of youth who run away from homes. It’s not even necessarily that someone kicked you out, but rather just made you feel like you weren’t at home in your home. So we want to make sure, especially for my parents out there, that we’re connecting ourselves to those resources. And for my educators, that we’re either able to ideally support that and sort of take that mantle, that labor off of the young LGBT person who may be experiencing familiar rejection, assuming that they’ve confided this in us. Or at the very least be able to connect that parent to resources for trained professionals, who are able to do that work at an expert level. Next slide please.

So another resource, I’m not going to cover all of these points right now because I don’t have time, but y’all will have access to this live deck material. This is a resource from an organization that’s based in York. Let me just double check. So, [inaudible 00:57:08]. So these are some points by a very large and wonderful organization that specializes in familial support in NY, in New York City. So these are some tips that they have for caregivers who are navigating their own emotional journey, as far as their child coming out to them. So I just wanted to make sure that these materials were here for folks who may need them. So next slide please, because I want to make sure we get into the other sort of talking points here.

So our next point is Violence Against LGBT+ Youth in the Home. So as I was saying earlier, yes okay, if you’re a cis/het person, you may have found out your child is LGBT+, you may have a sudden emotional reaction to that, what have you. But it is really important for everyone here, everyone watching this webinar, whenever in space and time you’re watching it, to understand that homophobia and transphobia A. are violence, and not only are violence, but for many young LGBT people, are forms of domestic abuse, and I mean that very emphatically, okay? I think a huge problem that many people have in understanding homophobia, transphobia in other systemic forms of abuse, such as racism, ableism, what have you, is that many people when they think of these things, they think of the most extreme example. You know what I mean?

So it’s like if people think of someone being racist, they think of the Ku Klux Klan. And I’m like someone walking up to me and asking me if they can touch my hair, because I’m a Black femme, and they’ve never seen someone with my hair texture before, is racist. Just because it’s not the most extreme version of racism, does not negate the fact that it’s racist. So just because you may be doing or saying something, for example, misgendering someone or dead naming them, referring to them by their previous name, just because that isn’t you throwing your child out of their home, that doesn’t mean that what you’re doing isn’t transphobic, right? It’s just on a spectrum or scale of that behavior.

So we want to make sure that we understand that homophobia and transphobia are not these extremist vacuums, but rather every day forms of violence that LGBT+ young people are experiencing over and over and over and over again. Your intent does not equal the impact you have on your youth, if you are a parent or an educator, who’s in the process of learning how to be more supportive. So the intent to harm is not a prerequisite for the fact that this is abusive behavior, especially when we’re dealing with identities that are socially stigmatized, because we’re all socialized and brainwashed to have certain adverse sentiments towards people, based off of the social identities that they have. That doesn’t mean we’re not responsible for doing the work of unlearning ourselves though. We’re responsible for that. So that brings me to our next slide.

Marianna Stepniak:

Hey Osimiri, I’m sorry to interrupt. That was 15 minutes right there.

Osimiri Sprowal:


Marianna Stepniak:

Let’s cover some of these things in the Q&A part right at the very end. But if you don’t mind, can we go to the slide that has your contact information, so folks can definitely jot that down?

Osimiri Sprowal:


Marianna Stepniak:

I apologize that we don’t have enough time to really dig into everything you’re talking about. I want to make sure we get to the resources too.

Osimiri Sprowal:

Of course. No problem.

Marianna Stepniak:

Awesome. Thank you Osimiri. So her contact … Excuse me. Their contact information is right there on this slide. As we’re seeing the Chat Box and the Q&A, this information will also be available after this webinar, both the slides themselves and the recording. We’re going to move now into talking more about the resources, what resources are available to support LGBTQIA+ students experiencing homelessness. And we’re going to hear from both Madelyn and Osimiri again on this one. Madelyn, first over to you.

Madelyn Morrison:

All righty. Okay so, I’m back and I’m getting this whole un-muting myself right away thing. So of course, I talked earlier about the Homeward Initiative, working with Host Homes and getting youth who are experiencing homelessness into housing with safe, inclusive families, which has also been working with us. Of course, everyone will get the slides. You can read more on it. But I also wanted to focus on the Life Skills Department at the Attic Youth Center.

So we’re located right at 255 South 16th Street, that’s off on 16th and Spruce in Center City Philadelphia. So our Life Skills department works directly with our youth, with all of everything they need, getting youth linked to welfare services, getting them food stamps, getting them medical, getting them summer employment. They’re doing environmental exploration for their summer employment this year, and that’s why we are … They’re planting different vegetables. I have some carrots on the way, I’m looking forward to receiving, but they really work with all of our youth with all of the activities. And here they talk about life coaching, resume writing, how to apply for a job. We do mock interviews, which we’re going to be bringing back soon.

We’re talking with youth on how to be group facilitators, about how to do panel discussions and all of that. But really just showing them these different ways that they can use their voice on these larger levels, so it’s not just about them having a place to socialize, even though I think that’s far more important, because there’s so many times where there are so much programming but not enough time for our young people to just be kids. So we try to have this balance … Excuse me, with the Life Skills Department, where there is a mixture of both, just young people getting to know each other and building relationships and friendships, and learning different skills so they can have a better focus and a better understanding of what their future is going to look like.

Then of course, reaching out to us with the Bryson Institute, we actually published a Gender and Sexuality Alliance Handbook that was supposed to have been done for the School District of Philadelphia and the 17 priorities schools who were working with us with creating safe spaces within their classrooms. But what ended up happening was, everyone started asking for it everywhere. So someone reached out to me from the Mass Charter School. They have a mass proud parents and supported their LGBTQIA+ kids. They have a support group together and they wanted me to come out there and they purchased our handbook. And they have been using this both in Philadelphia during the support groups and in Scranton, to create a Gender and Sexuality Alliance within their communities, through the church there in Scranton.

So this has already started to get a wider reach and I would recommend, if any of you are interested in purchasing the handbook, we have electronic copies and some hard copies left. So you can definitely reach out to me directly at the Attic Youth Center, just come right to the Bryson Institute Section of the website, and you can email me directly and we can get something set up. But there are plenty of new handbooks being released through Bryson. We’ll be printing a handbook of LGBTQIA+ Awareness and creating safe and inclusive spaces within the home. So this is for parents, caretakers, fosterers caregivers, you name it. So that book will be published by the end of this year, and I’ll be able to really expand the reach throughout the Philadelphia School District, the parents who are part of the Parent-Teacher Groups that we have under the school district, and expand the reach across the nation.

I actually want to start doing the overview for that handbook sometime next year, where we just have an open Zoom, a link that everybody can come to and ask questions. We can look over the handbook together. But I always try to pump our agency as a resource, because not only do we want to create a safe space for youth, but as Osimiri was saying, also creating a space for parents to come and volunteer, to help us create new resources and new activities for our young people. And it helps build the relationships between parents and caregivers and guardians and the young people. So we hope that people will use us, as well as resource, not just for youth but for the adults that are in their lives as well. I think there’s another slide. Is there, yes? Yes.

So, and also what Bryson does, of course, is professional development, trainings for youth serving organizations, businesses for profit and nonprofit organizations. We moderate youth panels and community discussions, build relationships with community leaders, to raise awareness on LGBTQIA+ issues. We create afterschool programming for our young people as well. So what we started to do during the pandemic, was have an anonymous student chat that happened every Friday, where students who were experiencing bullying or harassment in school could come and talk directly to the staff at Bryson about what they were going through. And we would either A, continue to counsel them, the young people, or we would then set up a training or professional development training with the staff at their school.

So we would literally come down there and go, “Your students are telling us that they’re having some problems with harassment, that it’s happening with both the students and the teachers. We would like to help you alleviate that.” And that’s really been working for us and for the students. So we really try to make sure that the work that we do is driven by the youth who need it the most, and they let us know who needs the training. Because of course we can go to every single one of the schools and think that we know exactly what they need to learn, but it’s really been helpful to get the assistance of the young people who come to the agency, who know about Bryson, who know about the Attic, who go to other schools and come to us and let us know.

Do we have one more slide or is that it? I think that is. Is it? Yes it is, okay. Yes, so we’ve got it.

Marianna Stepniak:

Awesome. So passing it over to Osimiri now.

Osimiri Sprowal:

Okay. So one of the organizations that I work for full time or for another month or so, is the Ali Forney Center. So the Ali Forney Center first and foremost is actually named after Ali Forney, who was a queer genderflux youth who unfortunately was murdered. And people who were already doing a lot of work on the LGBT+ advocacy in New York City at this time, named this organization after this youth due to their personal relationships to him. But also just due to the fact that unfortunately to this day, this is still an ongoing and pressing issue for young LGBT people, especially those of us who are Black and trans.

So what AFC is able to provide originally, AFC started off with six beds and was a housing program. And over time, we’ve been able to evolve and are now the largest direct service providing organization in the country, that specifically focuses on LGBT+ youth experiencing homelessness. So AFC obviously has housing, so we have multiple different housing sites. We have three different housing programs, which include our Transitional Housing Program. We have a housing program that is just for trans youth. We have our … I’m so sorry. I’m like, “I don’t know why my brain …” We have our Transitional Housing Program, the Trans Housing Program, and then we also have Emergency Housing Services, and then we also have an overnight drop in center.

Additionally, AFC is able to provide wraparound services with housing. So all of our youth, when they go through intake, they’re assigned their case manager. They’re also assigned a health services coordinator, because we have health services on site and they also are assigned a mental health services coordinator. So we have all three of these roles. Basically, as soon as you enter AFC, you have all three of those roles working with you for collective wellbeing. The reason why that model is incredibly important and greatly encouraged, is because if you’re only addressing homelessness and you’re not addressing those other issues and areas, one, that puts someone at greater risk of becoming homeless again, which unfortunately is very common in the LGBT community for people to relapse into homelessness or be homeless multiple times. I’m a living proof of this.

Additionally, because it means that we’re able to address and tackle the goals of the young person. To what I was saying about adultism earlier, part of our intake process is that we ask all of our young people at intake, what their three primary goals are that they want to be focused on and addressed so we can meet them. So we also have education services. You can get your GED through AFC and get connected with vocational programs, for people who have educational goals. So whatever goals our young people are trying to meet, basically we have services that are in-house, that we can use to support that. So next slide. That’s all I have to say about AFC.

So the next and last thing a note that says, True Colors United, but what I’m really going to talk about is one of the organizations I’m most proud to be a part of. So I do love TCU. It’s the National Youth Forum on Homelessness. So for those of you who may not be super familiar with this, YABs or Youth Action Boards are at this point, I’d argue, a pretty common thing to see in a lot of service providing, specifically organizations that address homelessness, especially LGBT+ homelessness. Youth Action Board basically is an organizing body of young people who are currently homeless or have lived experience of being homeless. And Youth Action Boards are basically a kind of organizing body of young people, usually based out whatever organization it is that they’re working at or that they’re represented.

So the National Youth Forum on Homelessness, of which I am one of the executive forum members is the largest Youth Action Board in the country. And we are the largest organizing body of people with lived expertise of homelessness, doing advocacy work, policy work, et cetera. We are a project of True Colors United. So that’s why I have TCU’s Logo here, because TCU is our mom, basically. So yes, the reason why I’m talking about this is because, if there are any youth on the call and you’re interested in learning more about Youth Action Boards or you’re an educator and you’re trying to figure out how to support your young people and connect them with resources, youth advocacy work is the reason why I’m talking to you on this webinar right now.

If I hadn’t started doing that, I wouldn’t be who I am right now. And it’s something I always try and educate people about whenever I have the chance, because I think it’s incredibly important for young people to be aware that there is a plethora of opportunities, not just for us to get housing, but for us to be involved in shaping what housing and what we can do to address homelessness ourselves. Because most of the solutions that I’ve seen actually worked, it was because a young person came up with the idea or because a young person gave their opinion. So I’m done, with my organization spiels.

Marianna Stepniak:

Thank you, Osimiri. And I want to say one more time again, we have the coolest panelists on this call. Thank you so much, Osimiri and Madelyn for sharing of yourselves. And Osimiri, you said at the beginning, even though it’s important to educate us as the audience about what you’re talking about, it’s difficult and it’s traumatic doing it again. So, thank you so much truly for being with us and sharing with us.

We’re going to move into a really brief Q&A right now, because there has been so much fantastic content to cover. I’m going to invite Madelyn and Michelle to please turn on your cameras for this last bit.

Madelyn Morrison:

Sure. Okay.

Marianna Stepniak:

Awesome. And I think we’ll aim to get through one question. I think that makes most sense and that way, we can have some time for the really rich, thought out answers. Michelle, I know we talked about you leading.

Michelle Nutter:

Okay. Well yes, I just want to echo Marianna and say, thank you so much Osimiri and Madelyn. This has just been absolutely incredible. And I wish that we had many, many, many more hours that we could continue this conversation, because you just have so much, so much to share with us. And Marianna and I have been chatting, “Let’s find other opportunities that we can continue this conversation.” So hopefully, we can do that.

I want to pull a question in, actually from the chat from one of our attendees, because I think getting to the resources piece is so important. She says, “As a licensed school counselor, working in schools in Florida, I am terrified about the Parent Bill of Rights that was recently passed. And I think probably everyone on this webinar echoes that feeling of terror and disgust, and you name it.” Fill in the blank, right? “How can those of us who work directly with LGBTQ+ youth, how do we still go about supporting them and helping them in confidence, when the law says that we have to inform parents?” And so the bottom line of this question is, what resources might be available to this particular counselor, if and when they are disciplined for not following the letter of that law?

Madelyn Morrison:

Geez, that’s so-

Michelle Nutter:


Madelyn Morrison:

That is a tough one, because … Oh, I’m just so sorry that they’re going through this. First of all, I need to process all of that because I can imagine the kind of rock and hard place that they’re in. And I don’t like to name it that, but it is what it is. This is a point of desperation for educators who are trying to still be there for their queer and trans students, when facing this kind of legislature, that pretty much will both silence and punish them if they choose to do it anyway. So I don’t know what resources they may have available there, but what I would recommend is that, everything that you experience while you continue to create that space and be a support to that student, document all of it. Because what we really need to start doing now, is showing the entire nation of what this looks like.

I know that it’s really like kind of throwing a diamond in the dark, but I think what we need to pay attention to now, is really showing folks how this legislature is not about protecting children at all. And when they talk about pushing these laws out, the parent has the right to know, they have the right to keep their child safe. All of these are just buzzwords to get people on board, but when we start showing them, this is actually what is happening when we breach the confidence of a student, of a child who is in my classroom, who is struggling with something, who is going through something that is literally … It’s killing them. And then, when we then put that, when we follow this particular law, when we don’t respect the agency of our young people, this is the result.

I also would recommend, and you can use either of us, me, Osimiri, you can use us as resources. There are ways where we can create online communities and other ways of creating and exchanging resources that may be out of your reach of the state, to help you cope with this particular situation, how to reach out to other organizations across the state, that can help you and advocate for you. So that is something that I probably need to research on, so I can see what resources that you have available in Florida. But what I would highly recommend is that you reach out to other educators like myself, like others here in Philadelphia, who have been faced with that kind of resistance from parents, and have still been able to create those safe spaces and been able to maintain that support anyway. But I do recommend, continue to be that support to those students, because they need that.

That I think is the biggest fear of these young people, is that last support system, that can very well be their last support system is now gone. Just continue to keep that rapport with them against all odds, and just know that you have communities outside of that state who are here with you and who will stand with you and fight with you.

Osimiri Sprowal:

I’m going to give two, as quick as I can give. Well, and we have a little bit of time. As quick as I can give answers, and my first answer is very immediate and direct, as a policy person. There is no such thing as an airtight law. So when I say, “Read the law.” I mean, “Read the law.” What does it say word for word that is illegal, that you can’t do and back your case up. What you’re doing, if it’s not on paper, if they didn’t pass it, if it doesn’t say, “You can’t do X, Y, and Z.” I know that sounds real shady. I know that sounds like I’m telling you to do criminal … No, I mean, literally-

Madelyn Morrison:

Read the law.

Osimiri Sprowal:

I promise you there’s a hole in it. I promise you there’s a hole in it. That sounds wild, but I’m saying this as a policy person. There’s a hole in it. There’s something … I haven’t read it. Thank God, I don’t live in Florida. To all my Floridians out there. My family’s from Louisiana. I’ve been homeless there once. And constantly my advocacy is trying to advocate for my Southern States, because as bad as it is up here, it’s usually two to three times worse down there. So I stand A, in solidarity with y’all, but I mean, print it out, whatever those policies are, whatever those laws are that they’re passing as they pass, and read them word for word exactly, so you know exactly what is and what is not on paper. And if you’re concerned about it, consult policy specialists and policy professionals in your local areas about what is and is outside of, or inside of the parameters of this policy, so that you can do what you can do, to the best of your ability and to the best of your policies.

I mean, even historically, one of the best examples obviously is the Black Panthers. It was not illegal for them to walk around, open-carrying guns until they made it illegal. And they declared when they were being arrested for what they were doing, that it wasn’t infringement of their rights, because it wasn’t illegal for people to open-carrying California when they started doing it. People did not like their activism, so it was criminalized.

So another thing that I do want to say, and this is the last thing that I’m going to say, and this is just on the dime of who I am as a person is, we are at war. These policies are attacks on bodies, on human beings, on children’s lives, period. So if someone is criminalizing the humanity and the existence of another person, as me, as an individual, not representing any org, just representing myself, whatever people have to do to keep children alive is what they have to do, on God, period. And that’s all I really have to say about it.

Marianna Stepniak:

Osimiri’s video, if … Here you are. Oh, I don’t want to follow up after this. Thank you. Thank you Madelyn and Osimiri. Truly, we’ve said this multiple times. I wish we had another hour in this conversation and I know our audience does too, because we have a list of questions we want to ask. I know that audience members, y’all have put questions in the Chat Box and the Q&A. Thank you, thank you so much, Madelyn and Osimiri for sharing of yourselves and your time with us today.

In our last slides, we’re going to plug the next parts to this webinar and our contact information. Osimiri and Madelyn, if you can add your emails to the chat, so folks can directly reach out to you, or whatever is makes most sense for you, info box, whatever, please do that. And thank you so much for offering yourselves up as resources. Ian, if you can share the last slides. Thank you, thank you.

We have two more. I’m going to call them webinars, but it’s really a COP left in this series on August 16th and 17th. This is part of the series of Are All The Children Well, Focusing on How to Support Students Experiencing Homelessness. Each of them, as you see are an hour and a half long on this two-day COP, and they’re going to be extremely worth it to attend. And it’ll involve action item planning, figuring out solutions for your setting where you are and have a lot of interpersonal conversation. So highly recommend that y’all attend. And then our last side, Michelle and I share our emails.

Our team will send out this content after the webinar is over. We’re going to have our webinar recording on the website. We will have these slides available for you to see. I know that there were a lot of slides that Osimiri didn’t get through, and it’s really important that y’all go back and read through them too, because there was a lot of content we meant to share in this presentation.

Please fill out the survey link. This tells us what you’d like to see go differently next time. Do you want us to spend more time on one section versus another, whatever, anything. We’d love to hear from you, our audience. And I think because I just went through that pretty quickly and we actually have three minutes left, I’m going to turn to Osimiri and Madelyn for just a final note, just our audience. Can you say one thing you’ve really want them to walk away with today. And we’re wrapping up our time, so if you can keep it to about one minute, that would be great. I’ll start with Osimiri and then Madelyn over to you. One thing you want our audience to walk away with today.

Osimiri Sprowal:

Oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t ready. From the heart, damn, trust love. Trust love. To be queer and exist is an act of love. And I do believe we must have faith in that and we have to have faith in our youth, that the love that they have for themselves and the love that we have for them will prevail. I think we have to have faith in that.

Madelyn Morrison:

I’m going to take a darker approach, because I always try to keep a balance. Anything that tries to or is disrupting just our right to evolve as a human existence, I’ll always look at as the dragon or the enemy. And we have never been taught to reason with that. And I think that’s where the disconnect has been, with trying to rationalize with the dragon that keeps burning our villages down.

So I want people moving forward in this work that we’re leading with love, to understand that we’re not here to reason with the dragon. We are here to slay it, because it is an impotence in our evolution. So I just want people to pay attention to that and just keep that in mind moving forward, that when Osimiri talked about us being at war, that is exactly what that is. Our children, we are, the generations before us, the generations after us, we are reaching that point where we can no longer reason with the enemy, and we have to do what needs to be done by enemies necessary. And I stand by that to my last breath, everyone. So with peace and with strength, maybe we move forward.

Michelle Nutter:

Madelyn, Osimiri, from the heart, wow. Thank you. Thank you so much for just being open and willing to share your stories with us, to share your knowledge with us, to share your resources with us. I speak for everyone at MAEC in just profound gratitude for all that you have done in this webinar today. And to all of our attendees, thank you so much for attending. Look for email that will give you the slide deck and the resources that have been shared with you today. And if you haven’t already done so, please take a minute to do the evaluations so that we can learn more and improve. We always want to offer the best for our sessions. So thank you so much, everyone. Thank you. Take care.

Madelyn Morrison:

Thank you. Bye.

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