As the leader of a high school queer club, a common thread of conversation amongst my peers is “My parents don’t support my queer identity but I want to help out the community. What can I do?” To be frank, I have never really come up with a good answer, because there aren’t very many actions that minors can take without parental consent. However, there are always possibilities, even if they are small and seemingly insignificant, to benefit a cause that they are passionate about. If you are someone in a position like the one described above, here are six things that kids and teens can do without parental involvement to benefit the queer community!
1. Sign Change.org Petitions
Everyone feels insignificant at some point. A very easy way to make a small change for any issue or any controversy that you care about is to sign online petitions. Change.org offers a plethora of transgender and queer rights petitions that are desperate for signatures! Simply adding a name to the list and electronically signing can make a huge difference to the success of the petition. While you are encouraged to use your real name when creating an account, they wouldn’t be able to tell the difference if you used a nickname or pseudonym. Similarly, they wouldn’t be able to tell if the email you provide is your usual email or the “burner email” that you only log into to verify your account. You can sign an infinite number of petitions on any topic you feel passionately about in a short period of time, so enjoy it!
2. Anonymously publish creative writing or essays in local news outlets
Anyone familiar with history, or at least familiar with Hamilton: The American Musical, knows that behind lines of letters and strings of sentences lies power. The written word carries with it a strength unlike that of other conventional communications methods- especially when used in a unique or stylistic manner. If you are someone who excels in creative writing, poetry, essays, pamphlets, stories, or journalism, the idea of publishing a politically charged piece might appeal to you. While getting your name in the papers might not be an option at this point in time, a multitude of literary magazines and news outlets, both local and national, offer the option to publish pieces anonymously! Find the information about how to submit pieces to each news outlet or magazine.
3. Attend GSA club meetings
If you attend a public high school, your school might have a GSA or GSA-type club. These are clubs that serve as a safe space for members of the queer community and as a place for the allies of queer people to connect and learn how to aid the queer community to the best of their ability. These clubs also act as social networks, support groups, arts and crafts time, and often as an explosion of glitter and queer culture and acceptance and support. Basically, GSA clubs are awesome! If your school has one of these clubs, join it! If the club has a sign in sheet for meeting attendance, feel free to simply initial or abstain from signing in- the leadership of the club will understand. Offer to help the club leadership in any unofficial capacities possible, anything that wouldn’t have to have your name on it. Trust me, as the leader of a GSA type club, we appreciate all the help we can get.
4. Speak out against hate speech
One of the most important things that we can all do to better the climate for queer people is calling out homophobic, transphobic, and queerphobic rhetoric in contexts where it is safe to do so- emphasis on that last part. If someone you know uses the F-slur, T-slur, or any other slurs for groups of people of which they are not a part, challenge them. Ask this person why they chose to use that word instead of another word, what they think the use of that word does to the community in question, and if they could kindly be more conscientious of their word choice in the future. Likewise, if someone you know makes an incorrect, offensive, or harmful statement about a group of people, challenge them. Make your voice heard and stand up against prejudice!
5. Follow and demonstrate support for LGBTQ organizations whenever possible
One of the many great things about social media is that you can be practically anonymous while using it. Create “fake” social media accounts to follow queer organizations and change makers, repost important information, spread positivity, and meet like-minded people. While some social media platforms require an email, it’s incredibly simple to create a “burner email” that you can use just for these purposes! If you have the ability to purchase a gift card or have a debit or credit card, consider making small donations to some of these queer organizations, along with following and reposting, sharing, tweeting, or snapping their social media content- The Trevor Project, Point of Pride, The Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, GLAAD, PFLAG, or really one of infinitely many queer organizations and businesses!
6. Support your queer friends
One of the greatest gifts to the queer community that anyone, including fellow queer people, can give is unconditional love and support. Yes, it sounds cheesy, but it’s true. After a day of being misgendered and deadnamed, all a trans person might want is to be called the correct name and pronouns. After being laughed at for being overly “feminine,” all a gay man might want is to be told that they are valid. At the end of the day, all we want is basic human respect and dignity. That has to start with respecting one another and treating each other within the community with kindness and compassion and human decency and dignity. Let’s start there.
If you are someone who wants to help out the queer community, there is always a way to do so- even if the action is small. A small action is better than no action. If you are someone with unsupportive parents or family, just remember that you can do this, and that one day you will be free. We, as a culture and as a community should continue to educate ourselves, inform others, and support each other. And most importantly, we should always remember that we are not alone and we are not helpless. There is always an action to be taken and there are always others to take it with you. The world is harsh and the political climate is unyielding-ly cruel, but we can do this. Together.