August 6 2015

At the Sons and Brothers Camp, two lessons stuck out for me: the historic impacts behind the school-to-prison-pipeline and the importance of LGBT issues. Through these lessons, I learned to come out of my shell more because my voice does matter.

It was amazing to share my rights as a gay student with my peers who became my brothers from across the state. Everyone asked many questions about our Lesbian, Bi, Gay, Trans, and Queer community and the issues we face, which made me feel a sense of pride. Even when the questions got weird and hard for me, I answered them because if I didn’t, who would have? I felt a web of support at this year’s Sons and Brothers camp that I want to feel in my community and school, too.

As students of color who are also gay, we need to be more outspoken and speak out our truth in order to build healthier communities with a stronger sense of connection. By speaking out, we get to know each other in a personal matter and we see what feels personally comfortable, which helps us to advocate for our rights as students. The connections we were able to create in a week, I will carry for a lifetime. This year’s Camp came with a surprise of a result: students were able to come out and truly be themselves. I am proud of all my brothers, especially my Queer Bros, for helping others and making people feel comfortable enough to ‘come out’.

This year, I want more LGBTQ students to feel empowered to stand up for themselves and learn about their community struggles and history behind our triumphs. I want to push my school and community to find positive solutions to suspensions – like we do with the Brothers, Sons, Selves Coalition – that create a school climate that uses approaches like restorative justice instead of punitive policies that push students onto negative paths. I want me and my peers to challenge school districts like my own to implement fair education and accurate curricula that include the historical and social contributions of people of color, people with disabilities, and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.