U of R’s Q-Summit returns to empower queer youth voices
There are a variety of conferences throughout the nation catering to specific needs or groups, but among all those conference one thing remains the same: there’s not really a place for youth.
Youth are allowed to attend but more often than not there’s not an option for their voices specifically to be heard.
The University of Richmond hopes to fix this with their upcoming Q-Summit, a partnership between the University of Richmond’s Office of Common Ground, VCU’s Gender Sexuality & Women’s Studies Program, UR’s SCOPE, Southerners on New Ground (SONG), and ROSMY.
The conference will focus entirely on LGBT youth and the issues and concerns which they feel need coverage and discussion.
“The Q-Summit is, most simply put, a gathering of queer youth age 17 to 25,” said media and public relations manager Tanner Kerckhove. “Basically it’s just a day where we can all gather at the University of Richmond and talk about what we’re doing or what we’d like to do or issues that are affecting us.”
This is the second year the University of Richmond has hosted the summit, which – true to its word – is organized, planned, and executed entirely by youth. This year’s summit has been planned by five student interns, four of whom come from the university itself, and one who serves as an ambassador from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Photo from last year’s Q Summit via Instagram
It was important that the summit be entirely youth run from top to bottom, a unique feature.
“When you think about LGBT conferences just in general, there normally are youth there, but there are usually adults speaking to you or speaking with them, you rarely see a conference that’s run by youth, and that’s creating that space for them” said head of volunteers Jazzmin Reid. “I think the importance of the Q-Summit is to make sure that the youth know that their voices are being heard and that it give them a space where they’re comfortable.”
Content manager and VCU representative Phoebe Lief made a similar statement about the importance of the Q-Summit.
“I think that the queer youth can often be blindsided,” said Lief. “Growing up queer and in the south we really have this need for making sure we have these safe communities, and a safe space for them. The south can be such a harsh environment growing up a queer youth that it can be tricky and we don’t want anyone to get lost in the cracks.”
While adults older than 25 are welcome to attend the conference if they wish, they aren’t allowed to give presentations or act as speakers.
“It’s a space specifically for youth, by youth,” said Kerckhove. “Adults are mildly involved, they’re allowed to attend as adult allies, but it’s primarily youth who put it together, run it the day of, present everything, and attend.”
The summit will begin on Saturday, March 28th at 8:30 am and run until 6:30 pm with three sessions, called “Breakout Sessions” scheduled throughout the day. Some of the sessions include and anti-racism presentation given by SONG representatives, microaggressions within the queer community, a caucus for queer youth dealing with mental illness, a presentation of homeless LGBT youth, a workshop on navigating religious spaces, and the issue of misusing pronouns.
Though a queer focused space, the summit will also welcome those who identify as allies or who don’t necessarily feel comfortable putting themselves under the queer moniker.
“I think the good thing about the term queer is that its such an overarching term, any student who feels like any aspect of this word applies to them can feel comfortable in this space,” said Reid. “So when we do get allies in this space we make sure that we inform them that this is a queer space and to make sure that queer voices are the ones that are heard.”
The Q-Summit will be held on Saturday, March 28th in the University of Richmond’s Tyler Hanes Commons and does require registration.
The registration form can be found here and must be submitted by Friday, March 27th at 5 pm.
Be sure to come out and make your voice heard.
Tyler Hammel is a college student who has an unhealthy obsession with comic books. He’s a proud cinephile, owning a sizable film collection that lets you know he doesn't have any friends. An aspiring filmmaker, Tyler currently works with the VCU student organization The Horn RVA, a group of like-minded video journalists with a passion for Richmond based music. When not crafting his own bio Tyler can be found misusing commas,
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