Schools, Families, and Communities in Action, Revised Edition
Edited By Elizabeth J. Meyer and Annie Pullen Sansfaçon
Chapter Twelve: Supporting Genderqueer Youth in Rural Communities: A Case Study
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This chapter documents the formation and ongoing facilitation of a peer support group1 for youth exploring gender identity and expression and their sexual minority peers in a rural Canadian farming community with a population of fewer than 45,000. Considerations for the genderqueer youth in the group will be emphasized; however, because the group was composed of both genderqueer and sexual minority youth, the experiences of these young people cannot be completely separated, nor can these two populations. Many of the youth in the group who were genderqueer were also sexual minority youth and at times members of the group would vacillate between these two populations. Given that the experiences and identities of these youth cannot be completely separated, there will be some overlap between genderqueer youth and sexual minority youth when discussing the formation and ongoing facilitation of the group and experiences of group members.
Genderqueer youth require the creation of safe spaces in which they can explore, experiment with, and express their gender identity, as well as have these identities reflected back to them by affirming peers and adults. These spaces need to be available and easily accessible in all communities, but especially in rural communities where genderqueer youth are at particular risk of isolation and alienation from their peers, schools, families, and the broader community. First, the literature regarding the lack of support and affirmation that genderqueer youth receive, and the risks that this puts these youth at, will be reviewed. Then the concerns and...
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