Merced LGBT Health Forum: Youth Responses

Sep. 4, 2013 / By



Photo: LGBT Health Forum

by We’Ced Youth

Editor’s Note: On August 8th, We’Ced Youth Media attended Merced’s first LGBT Health Forum held at the Italo-American Lodge on Main Street. After participating in this powerful community event, We’Ced Youth put their thoughts and feelings on paper to share with the rest of our community how this much-needed vent went and what can be done from here.

Lisa Vasquez, 17

BHC’s first LGBT Youth Health Forum took place August 8, in southeastern Merced to promote health and well being by educating and informing professionals, policy makers, LGBT youth and families. The agenda started with keynote speaker Dr. Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Program (FAP), sharing that the organizations goal is to bring positivity through media, public perception and support. Using a research-based, culturally grounded approach to help ethnically, socially, and religiously diverse families decrease rejection and increase support for their LGBTQ children. After Ryan’s presentation was a panel that consisted of four people who all tied into the LGBT community. First, Diego Sandoval, shared his personal experience of hiding his sexuality, numbing his pain, then embracing himself as an LGBT youth. Angel Garcia, gay latino youth, told how he started a GSA (Gay Straight Alliance) at his ambivalent high school. Don Marie Luna, a GSA advocate, network resources and support training. Lastly, Kathleen Grassi, director of Merced Department of Public Health is looking to create a healthy environment physically and mentally for LGBT youth. Wrap up consisted of audience interaction and reflection, then surfing through the community resource booths.

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WeCed Youth Media

Merced and its surrounding areas have always had a vibrant population of young people. Unfortunately, too often there is a disconnect between generations that can lead to misunderstandings and a lack of communication. WeCed's aim through its program and publication is to highlight and empower youth to tell their stories and that of their communities, while providing them with the guidance and skill-building necessary to foster the development of their strongest possible voice.