High school students with teacher and GLSEN NH youth outreach chair. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

High school students with teacher and GLSEN NH youth outreach chair. (Photo by Cheryl Senter.)

Picking up the pace of change

Kids from high schools around the state are taking change into their own hands

This generation is not waiting around.

Kids from high schools around the state are taking change into their own hands. On a rainy night in Concord, one group was busy on a presentation about transgender issues.

These kids are done with bullying, and done with closets, and are elevating and celebrating voices kept silent too long.

A statewide youth leadership summit put on by the New Hampshire chapter of GLSEN (pronounced “glisten” and formerly called the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) helped jump-start projects like this one. The summit was funded in part by the Foundation’s Bob Karnan Fund for an Inclusive Community, which promotes equality and understanding for all people, regardless of sexual orientation.

Kids have since organized new Gay-Straight Alliances in schools, are participating in a “Day of Silence” to demonstrate the silencing effect of bullying, advocating for inclusive school policies and curricula, and more.

“This can create a lot of good in places where there is a lot of bad,” says 15-year-old Alexis.

The pace of change remains slow: 85 percent of LGBTQ middle and high school students report being verbally harassed in school and nearly a third miss school because they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. Hostile school environments affect LGBTQ kids’ mental health, GPAs and college aspirations.

These kids are picking up the pace of change. This much is clear: Nothing is going to stop them.