INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Even as legislation banning transgender girls from playing on women’s K-12 sports teams is pending, LGBTQ youth advocates say they won’t stop their work.
the Indiana Youth Group says LGBTQ youth need safe spaces right now — which is why the group isn’t waiting for lawmakers. Instead, they take a step forward by creating camp queera summer camp for LGBTQ youth.
For nearly two months, state lawmakers and voters debated a measure that would prevent transgender girls from playing women’s sports in school. The measure reached Governor Eric Holcomb’s office. Holcomb vetoed the bill on Monday, but Indiana House leaders say they will try to override the governor’s veto.
The bill got people thinking — people like Belinda Drake, director of youth services at the Indiana Youth Group.
“We’re just at a place where we’re trying to create access and opportunities for LGBTQ youth between the ages of 12 and 24,” Drake said.
Initial ideas included an LGBTQ basketball or kickball league. Unable to quickly mount a league, the group opts for another rewarding experience: summer camp.
“It gives young people the opportunity to come together, to learn certain physical activities, also to learn teamwork, discipline, hard work. What it means to get up and be in a certain place at a certain time Again, that piece of discipline,” Drake said.
According to Project Trevora non-profit organization focused on preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth, approximately 40% of LGBTQ youth have considered suicide in 2021. They said they felt that way not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the how they are treated and perceived in society.
“Our job is to create this safe space for LGBTQ youth [to] not just to learn from our staff, but from their peers, and to find that sense of belonging, which ultimately helps us reduce those LGBTQ youth suicide rates,” Drake said.
The camp is open to LGBTQ youth ages 12-17. Drake says the response to camp is already growing.
“We need spaces for young LGBTQ people to thrive and live their best lives,” Drake said.