Friday, February 9, 2007

New Zealand's Queer Youth Hui A Success

Friday, 9 February 2007, 11:42 amPress Release: Out There MEDIA RELEASE
Queer Youth Hui A Success
(February 9, 2007) Young people at the Kaha Queer Youth Hui have called for an independent network organisation to help overcome many of the challenges faced by groups that support LGBT young people.
73 young gay, lesbian, takataapui and transgender community leaders from all over the country attended the hui, held at Tapu Te Ranga Marae on the weekend of January 26-28 and organised by the OUT THERE! Youth Development Project.
“Representatives from queer youth groups who came said a national queer youth workers network needs to be put in place, so we can increase the quality of support available to queer youth around the country,” says Nathan Brown, National Co-ordinator of the OUT THERE! “Youth workers need to be better supported by each other, trained, and acknowledged for the hard work they do.”
OUT THERE! aims to create communities that are safe and inclusive of sexuality and gender diversity. The project uses the word “queer” as an umbrella term to encompass lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, fa'afafine, and takataapui identities.
“Many people commented on how diverse the hui was in terms of its representation of the queer spectrum,” Brown continues. “This really led many to fully appreciate the diversity of sexuality and gender.”
The hui included many important discussions around issues facing queer youth in New Zealand, including increasing visibility and support for transgender people, and the poor record of many schools at delivering accurate safe sex information.
“One participant told us how a teacher at their Catholic secondary school told them that condoms were only 40% effective, which is completely untrue,” Brown says. “We need to look at ways of developing and supporting more queer youth around the country to deliver presentations in schools around sexuality and gender diversity.”
Another objective of the weekend was to help queer youth groups better meet the needs of Maori and Pacific youth. “Quite a few of the young participants said that Kaha was their first marae experience and that they really enjoyed this aspect of the hui,” Brown says. “Many parallels were drawn between racism and homophobia through the incorporation of tikanga into the process of the hui.”
One of the most successful outcomes of Kaha was an increased sense of wellbeing among the young people who attended. “By the end we had a wonderful community feel and a shared purpose about wanting to support queer youth and promote acceptance,” Brown says. “The level of knowledge, motivation and skill of everyone at the hui was amazing – everyone was so passionate about supporting their queer peers and promoting sexuality and gender diversity.”
More information on the work of the OUT THERE! Project can found at their website:

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