In Fall of 2021, Merced youth successfully advocated for the city to allocate funds to support a pride center, ensuring that youth voice and input was included in the development of the center’s operations. In mid-October, they collaborated with local youth-serving partners and spearheaded the movement to ensure that ARPA funding benefits young people. In … Continued
We want to live in a world where we all are accepted, welcomed, and loved for exactly who we are. In this world, we all feel a profound sense of self-worth, safety and support to express our identities and explore our sexualities. We have equal access opportunities and our contributions are valued, regardless of gender.
This requires dismantling deeply held notions of gender by providing all people – and especially children and youth – with the support and information they need to explore, understand and articulate their own way of being in the world without shame or fear. It means embracing consent-based interactions, where all people have the right to determine what they want for their own bodies. It means celebrating each individual’s self-expression, whether through dress, gesture, behavior and/or activity.
Mental health is prioritized for all people. All schools offer inclusionary sex education and abundant, culturally appropriate mental health resources. Culture creators – filmmakers, artists, musicians – are representative of all people and are encouraged to share and normalize their experiences.
The ultimate freedom is being able to say, “This is who I am,” and have people accept it.
Assigned even before birth, gender roles define our society’s expectations of how we should think, feel and move through the world. They attempt to dictate every detail of our lives – what clothes we wear, who we interact with and how, what dreams we pursue – and they have concrete consequences on our physical and mental wellbeing.
People of all genders and sexual orientations are harmed by cis-hetero-patriarchy. Rape culture ensures that female-bodied people are never safe from physical and emotional harm – and that they’ll be blamed for being victimized if they speak up. Their labor is under-valued and often uncompensated, and their professional aspirations in careers of all kinds will be cut short by glass ceilings. The mental health of male-bodied people suffers because toxic masculinity requires them to deny and repress emotions. Homophobia restricts their behaviors with the threat of physical and emotional abuse.
While cis-gendered, heterosexual people are boxed in by narrow gender norms, LGBTQ+ folks are othered and marginalized. Policies have excluded them from receiving basic human rights and often refuse to recognize them at all. They are the target of bullying and hate crimes, and LGBTQ+ youth are particularly at risk, since the important adults in their lives – who have a great deal of power over them – may deny, reject or punish them for their identities. School environments reinforce gender norms in dress codes, bathrooms, and sex education. As a result, LGBTQ youth have higher rates of homelessness and suicide than cis-gendered and heterosexual youth.
Timeline of Wins in Gender Justice
On July 19, 2021, Merced’s We’Ced and Youth Revolutionary Front successfully advocated for a City resolution acknowledging violence against LGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous and people of color and for funding to open a center.
Fresno County Hispañas Youth Leadership Program (HYLP) leads a statewide virtual town hall exploring solutions to the pressing issues impacting California Latina youth.
In June of 2021, Merced youth participated in a campaign that resulted in a City resolution to officially recognize June as Pride Month, and to have the LGBTQ+ flag flown on Main Street.
The ECV offices sits on the Planning Committee of ECV Pride for the third year in a row.
Venetia Valley youth plan and lead a virtual PRIDE event. Students moderated a panel to learn more about the LGBTQ experience.
The Grassroots Womxn Rising convening hosted hundreds of resilient womxn of color – including yli youth! – involved with the California Endowment’s health equity campaign, “Building Healthy Communities” (BHC).
On April 10th, in partnership with the LGBT Alliance, Girls & Womyn of Color (GWoC) pushed forward an addendum to Merced Union High School’s new Sexual Harassment Response Plan and district documents to include LGBTQ+ friendly language. The new documents will be shared with all staff and students in the coming school year.
¡Que Madre! Media co-hosts Semana de la Mujer at Desert Mirage Highschool in Thermal, CA. The week-long event featured resources and workshops for young women on campus.
On February 11th it was announced that Central Valley Senior Director of Programs Yammilette Rodriguez was awarded the James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award. These awards, “recognize and support individuals who are advancing innovative and effective solutions to significant state issues” and provide a $250,000 investment in the work.
Click here for links to English and Spanish versions!
Girls and Womyn of Color youth and staff advocated and facilitated for the passing of several policies that will create safer conditions for students and staff at Merced Union High School District. The school board adopted the following changes: Youth will be represented on the School Board, either as appointed members or with voting rights … Continued