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Respect key to supporting LGBTQIA+ youth

Accept people for who they are. That was the message presented at an LGBTQIA+ youth workshop in Grande Prairie on Monday. Alberta Health Services Mental Health Therapist Nicole Marshall says it’s important to start a conversation and teach people who may not know how to deal with things like this.

“I think there are some people that just don’t want to bother to understand. I think it comes down to simple values of common sense, kindness, fairness, respect and anti-oppression framework. Don’t be a hater that’s not helpful for anyone… Accept them as they are, however they are, whoever they are and however they identify.”

Twenty parents and youth attended the workshop. While there, Marshall took them through some of the terms associated with LGBTQIA+ as well as some statistics and research and how to support those who may be gender or sexual minority. Marshall says the questions she gets asked the most are about what local services are available and how to access things like health care.

“It’s complicated enough to access the system for any kind of healthcare issues and I guess there’s a lot of need for direction on kind of navigating through the system, what is it you need, what are the first steps, second steps, how do you go about accessing that and how do you get through to where you need to be.”

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Marshall says the biggest thing she hoped people took away from the workshop was to be open-minded and open-hearted.

“Be respectful, be open, be kind, be willing to learn what you don’t know and how to approach people. Ask people what their preferred name is [or] pronoun. Don’t assume that all people are straight, heterosexual and cisgender, which is matching the gender you were assigned at birth.”

For the people who weren’t able to attend, Marshall says there are a number of websites they can go to to find out more information. They include AHS, GLAAD and the Trans Equality Society of Alberta.

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