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National Hui For Queer Youth

National Hui Will Promote Acceptance And Support For Queer Youth

(January 25, 2007) Improved acceptance and support for gay, lesbian, transgender and takataapui youth in the community is one of the aims of the Kaha Queer Youth Hui, to be held at Wellington’s Tapu Te Ranga Marae this weekend.

The hui is being run by the OUT THERE Youth Development Project, which 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.

Around 70 young gay, lesbian, takataapui and transgender community leaders from all over the country will attend the hui. “Kaha is a tool to help build queer young people’s capacity to support themselves and each other in the communities they come from, especially schools where research shows queer youth to be particularly vulnerable,” Brown says. “12.9% of non-heterosexual students are bullied at least once a week.”

A special forum at Kaha will discuss how queer youth can encourage acceptance in their local communities and schools, building on the achievements of groups like NAGS (Nayland Alliance of Gays and Straights), which has been running at Nayland College in Nelson since 2002.
“Homophobic environments, isolation and invisibility damage the morale, emotional and physical well-being of queer youth, and groups like NAGS help develop and maintain safe and supportive learning environments,” Brown says. “We’d like to see groups like this in every high school.”

Kaha will also include workshops on drug/alcohol issues, sexuality and relationships, safe sex and HIV. There will be a Q&A session with MPs Maryan Street and Charles Chauvel, and New Zealand AIDS Foundation chair Jeremy Lambert will discuss activism and the media.

“We hope that by the end of the weekend, more queer youth will know where to go for help and support when they need it,” Brown says. “It’s about making new connections, building confidence, and increasing awareness of the issues facing queer youth in Aotearoa New Zealand.”

Kaha is a three-day event taking place at Tapu Te Ranga Marae in Wellington on the weekend of January 26-28, 2007. More information can be found on the Out There website: www.outthere.org.nz/kaha

ENDS

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