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Young people in Southern Africa as a whole face formidable challenges in a world of rapid social changes, economic recession, religious fundamentalism and a widening gap between the wealthy and the poor. There is not much data specifically on young LGBTIQ people from the region. The little that has been published suggests that, although young LGBTIQ people share the same hardships as all young people in Southern Africa, they also experience additional problems related to their exclusion from education by stigma, as well as discrimination in the workplace. New HIV infections are disproportionately concentrated in young people, and particularly amongst young men who have sex with men.

The YOUth work which GALA is currently doing, is finding new and innovative ways to engage with YOUth in spaces of education and social engagement. We are passionate about documenting and preserving the stories of YOUth, with a partuicular focus on LGBTQIA+ YOUth and their experiences. Through our ongoing collaborative work, diversity training is carried out in schools for students and staff alike. We make a concerted effort to document stories that have previously gone untold. The contemporary archive serves as a space where attention can finally be given to positive depictions of particularly YOUng black queer people. In the current socio-political climate in South Africa, and on the continent at large, focussing on YOUth in education is important for creating change for the future. 

GALA YOUth Forum

The Youth Forum for 2017 has been designed such that it caters to new participants and alumni, covering a variety of issues at various intensity levels as it progresses. The aim with the forum for 2017 is to engage in meaningful ways with not only the Wits LGBTQIA+ community, but also students from other institutions surrounding Wits. Reinvigorating relationships with partners previously involved with the work of the forum is one of the goals of the forum during 2017, in hopes that partnerships will create scope for a greater awareness of the space, and potential for the forum to be expanded not only in attendance but also through events which will spur community engagement. 

Diversity Training

This project aims to increase the overall understanding and awareness of gender and sexual diversity issues amongst SMTs and school communities in South Africa.  The facilitation of this project also aims to provide School Management Teams with the information, resources and ideas to effectively foster a more inclusive school environment, that challenges bullying against gender and sexually diverse people and approaches sexual and gender diversity through a human rights approach. 

Queer Realness

Queer Realness is a monthly publication for the YOUth Forum, by the YOUth Forum. The content is deliberately sassy and informal and is aimed at sharing stories, experiences and information. The views, opinions and positions expressed by the authors and those providing comments in the publication are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organisation. 

For a dose of Queer Realness, click here.