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There we met with LGBTA youth from high schools and colleges around the state to talk about harassment. We conducted a morning workshop with 20-25 participants–nearly all of whom had experienced some form of harassment in their schools and/or communities. The stories we heard were both heartbreaking and enraging–especially when it comes to the rampant lack of empathy and lack of action among both educators and law enforcement, who witness youth being bullied/harassed but do nothing to stop it. However, what we experienced, though, was a surge of empowerment as participants listened to one another and then offered their support. As each one finished their story, we joined in a chorus to tell that person: “I’ve Got Your Back.” And we do!
We also heard that while our Hollaback! is based in Des Moines, and our map reflects harassment happening in predominately urban areas, harassment is happening on a much different level in Iowa’s rural communities–where students commonly have known their harassers since preschool. We know that many students are struggling to find support within their schools and communities. This is where, we hope, our Internet revolution can offer some solace–as a platform for all voices throughout Iowa. So to our friends in solidarity throughout the state: we see you, we hear you, and we have your back, no matter who or where you are!
Another way We’ve Got Your Back: Hollaback! Des Moines is proudly working with the LGBT Health Initiative of Iowa, a statewide coalition, to assess the health needs of the LGBTQ community in Iowa! The first phase is a needs assessment survey, and so we are asking all our followers (who identify as LGBTQ) to complete a short online survey and forward it on to your contacts. The goal of this project is to collect information about the health status and health care experience of you and your community, to determine strategies to address health inequities that still exist in Iowa. This information will be used to determine how the LGBT Health Initiative of Iowa, community-based organizations, and other health care providers can better serve you and your community.
Do you have our backs? Before the end of April, we’re trying to get 10,000 people to commit to help next time they see someone being harassed. To help, we’ve got a cool infographic you can take a look at for tips! Then take the Hollaback! pledge to be a better bystander!
Photos courtesy of Iowa Pride Network. See more from the conference in their photo album!
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