GSA Network Blog

LGBTQ Youth, Research Justice, and a Youth-Led Social Justice Movement

Recently, GSA Network was profiled by DataCenter for the work of our Research Manager. The post below is reprinted with permission from the DataCenter blog. Read the original post here: http://www.datacenter.org/lgbtq-youth-research-justice-and-a-youth-led-s....

At DataCenter's recent Nonprofit Research Institute, community members, youth leaders, and organizers learned the ins and outs of Research Justice. Participants often take what they learn from our trainings and apply it to their own work, and the Institute was no different.

Hilary Burdge, Research Manager from the Gay—Straight Alliance (GSA) Network, participated in the Institute hoping to learn ways to make research at her organization more meaningful and youth-driven. Specifically, her organization hopes to bring youth voice to the center of their research.

“Research is so key in our effort to create change in our communities—the way that we do it and the way that we use it is really important.” —Hilary Burdge, Research Manager, Gay—Straight Alliance Network

Our Nonprofit Research Institute draws a lot of its content from An Introduction to Research Justice—our flagship toolkit released in 2013. After the Institute, Hilary took the toolkit and adapted it to speak to her community’s needs.  She then presented her custom Research Justice workshops at GSA Network’s national gathering. She used the various training modules to help participants think critically about the dominant perception of LGBTQ youth. She asked the questions: What would it mean if youth voices were actually listened to? How can we get youth voices heard? How can we be strategic about that? How can we organize our community so that we can create the greatest impact?

“I have a personal vision that young people will be able to use research to ask their own questions and tell their own stories. They really are the experts of their lives. It’s my job to support young people to create change in their communities, and I think research is a really valuable tool to do that.” — Hilary Burdge

Hilary reiterated the need for Research Justice in her work at GSA Network:

“Even if I know anecdotally what is happening to young people in schools—and I do—I don’t think it’s meaningful for me as an adult to ask the questions and create the solutions.  I’m going to be held back in my efforts if I’m not including young people along the way to tell their own stories and supporting and providing resources for them to be able to lead the process. I think it makes the work a lot richer.”

Hilary understands that research in the hands of the people most affected is a powerful tool to create change. When LGBTQ youth (and marginalized communities in general) harness the power of research to tell the stories of their experience, it leads to genuine solutions and lasting change.

Check out www.gsanetwork.org for more on GSA Network’s important work. If you’re interested in bringing Research Justice to your organization, contact DataCenter!

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