Project Rousseau LGBTQ+ Community Service
A Peacemaking Project by Alistair S.
What is the injustice we are solving?
A lack of support for LGBTQ+ youth living in New York City.
Our Compassionate Solution:
To solve this injustice of discrimination against LGBTQ youth
we will address a lack of provision for youth from this community
by volunteering to educate our peers about LGBTQ issues.
Our Project Plan:
- To understand the needs of LGBT youth in our local communities
- To organize monthly info sessions and workshops in a local middle school to educate students about LGBT issues
- To support our peers in their attempts to work with and advocate for LGBT youth
We will increase my / our compassion by...
When we visit a local middle school, we will emphasize having experienced similar situations in our own lives as LGBTQ teens. We will listen carefully to others' views and experiences, and find areas of common ground with them, in terms of background, interests and experiences. We will also encourage particularly engaged middle schoolers to get involved with our own Project Rousseau LGBTQ weekly discussion group to give them more opportunities to engage with these issues.
How will you show courage?
As part of Project Rousseau's newest initiative, we will show courage as we work hard to get this new community service program off the ground. We will be courageous in sharing our own experiences, and respectful of those of others. We realize that LGBT people can be vulnerable, so we will be kind in our approach to others, particularly towards those who are not 'out' or who are still negotiating their sexual identity.
How will you collaborate with others?
As student leaders within Project Rousseau's LGBTQ group, we will collaborate with Project Rousseau staff and students to set up a partnership with a local middle school, to find a group of students who would like to learn more about LGBT issues. We will draw on the experiences of the 'Middle School Peer Mentoring Program', also run by a Project Rousseau student, as well as other Peace First projects, in order to learn how best to run this initiative with middle school students.
How will you know you are moving in the right direction? (What are specific ways you can measure your impact?)
We will be sure to give plenty of time for reflection by both Project Rousseau student volunteers and middle school participants, and listen to their experiences and views, especially when we have discussed sensitive issues. We will gather student testimonies regarding their attitudes and confidence speaking about concepts, terminology and ideas within the LGBTQ community in order to inform our planning for future workshops and discussions.
- Contact local middle schools to set up a partnership to share our experiences with middle school students.
- Plan monthly after-school workshop sessions for middle school students in collaboration with Project Rousseau staff
- Advertise sessions to middle schoolers in order to ensure participation by a diverse group of students (both LGBT and allies)
- Evaluate workshops and discussion sessions with Project Rousseau staff in order to ensure we are meeting needs of middle school students effectively
- Develop our own discussion group to foster better education about LGBT issues within our own community.
How did the project deepen your team's understanding of the injustice?
LGBTQ communities are discriminated against around the world. Whilst we are lucky that in New York we are able to talk about these issues openly, we are realizing that many middle schoolers are not yet aware of the issues faced by LGBTQ youth, and unwittingly play a part in perpetuating oppression.
How did your community change as a result of your project?
Our LGBTQ group within Project Rousseau began simply as a safe space discussion group for LGBTQ allies. Expanding our work to a community service project has enabled us to lead more focused discussions, and expand the impact and benefits of discussing issues which touch everyone in society with a wider audience.
Explain how you came up with the number of people impacted by the project?
As this project is still in its early phases, it is difficult to assess the numerical impact of the projects. However, workshops of middle schoolers in the fall semester will take 3-4 volunteers each month to run workshops for entire classes of middle schoolers (30 students)
How did your team learn more about the people affected by the injustice?
By listening carefully to teachers at our partner school, we came a much better understanding of provision already available for middle schoolers, and in turn the work we need to do surrounding issues of inclusion and anti-bullying.
What did your team learn?
We have learned the importance of sensitive listening, and tackling issues affecting the LGBTQ community, particularly involving those who may not have the confidence to come out, with sensitivity, clarity and planning.
What challenges did your team overcome?
It was challenging to build a partnership with a school initially, which delayed our project. We learnt about the processes for setting up new clubs in school environments, particularly those dealing with sensitive issues.
How have you involved others in designing, carrying out, or expanding this project?
We reach out to the wider LGBTQ+ community within Project Rousseau to ensure that as diverse a range of views are shared and discussed. We have worked with staff from Project Rousseau to gain knowledge and expertise from more experienced educators.
What advice would you give to someone starting a peacemaking project?
When running a workshop-based project, make sure your lessons and resources are planned, organized and reviewed significantly before each session, to give time for questions from facilitators so that everyone can be on the same page.
Planning our sessionsAlistair S. 30 May 2018 14:12 We have been thinking more about how we can best help the middle school students at MS 161 in Harlem. In doing so we have been planning a number of session topics, based on our own discussions during our Friday meetings. So far our topics include:
1) What does it mean to be an ally?
2) LGBTQ Language and Terminology
3) Supporting people who are coming out
4) What does it mean to be transgender?
5) LGBTQ role models
6) Social media and bullying
All of our efforts are based around fostering inclusion and better understanding amongst our fellow students.
2 January 2018 11:13
10 January 2018 17:33
12 January 2018 10:40
7 March 2018 15:24
I really loved your idea to volunteer both time and resources at an LGBTQ shelter in your community! As human beings, one of the most valuable gifts we have to share with others is our time and attention to support one another! You have also done a wonderful job in identifying a serious injustice in the lack of provision for LGBTQ youth in shelters.
One question I have about your insight is the root cause of the injustice which you have identified. In reading your insight, it seems that in statement one you are identifying the injustice, and in statement two (“we will address….”), you are giving an example of the demonstration of this injustice. It would be wonderful if you could think about what causes this discrimination in shelters – is it a lack of awareness or understanding by those who run the shelters? We have some fantastic resources to help you examine this question that may be found here: www.peacefirst.org/understand-through-compassion.
If you have any questions, or if there is any way that myself or another member of our team may be helpful, let us know!
28 March 2018 18:43
We're excited to hear more about your ideas to address this important injustice! I wanted to let you know about an opportunity -- if you are interested in getting some funding for materials that you need to carry out your project, you can apply for mini-grant of up to $250.
The deadline to submit your Project Plan and Mini-Grant Application is March 31st if you want to remain eligible to apply to attend a Peace First Accelerator.
As you craft your plan, be sure to consider the feedback we gave you on your compassionate insight, and check out our project planning tools for help turning your insight into a concrete action plan: https://www.peacefirst.org/plan-your-project
Then, through your dashboard you can make any changes you want to make to your "compassionate insight," record your plan in "Make a plan" and then "Apply for a mini-grant" for the materials you need.
Let us know if you have questions. We're looking forward to supporting your project!
29 March 2018 18:00
2 April 2018 10:57
3 April 2018 14:39
Congratulations! Your project has been selected to receive a Peace First Challenge mini-grant. We will be in touch soon with details about this payment.
The mini-grant process is also a space for you to get feedback on your peacemaking project. We hope you will use this feedback to further strengthen your project. Please see the feedback on your mini-grant below
The logic flow of this project plan is excellent. You have identified an injustice and developed a realistic and appropriate solution to tackle it.
I also really admire their bravery in sharing your own experiences.
Finally, I really like your openness to learning and reflection. You have said that you will learn from other projects and give plenty of time for reflection by both the Project Rousseau student volunteers and the school participants. Learning about what has gone well (and not so well) is an essential part of any project.
Things to consider:
For the project 'goals', you have listed a series of actions. The project would benefit from thinking about the change that you would like to see and how you might measure it. When you conduct your reflection, you can then asses whether you have achieved the impact that you set out to create.
Finally, you identify that there are some LGBTQ teens that are not 'out' or who are still negotiating their sexual identity. I encourage you to think about how your sessions/workshops are both promoted and delivered so that people who do not openly identify themselves as LGBTQ can also benefit.
Congratulations and best of luck with your project!