All Kinds of News for March 07, 2018
Dr. Elnur “El” Gajiev, Primary Therapist, recently attended the third annual Gender Education and DeMystification Symposium (GEMS) in Salt Lake City, Utah. This conference is dedicated to expanding the awareness, knowledge, and skillful practice of engaging with gender-expansive youth. The annual GEMS conference is a gathering of clinicians, program administrators, educational consultants, frontline staff, students, and speakers. The presenters, who noted the relationship between growth and comfort, challenged the group to question many of the previously-held beliefs through thought-provoking exercises and activities.
As one speaker provided attendees with a foundational framework of languaging related to this work - noting the differences between biological sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, and sexual behavior, another spoke about the striking data including: how 50% of transgender youth under the age of 20 have attempted suicide at least once, how LGB youth are 3x more likely than their straight peers to contemplate suicide, how 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ, how 6 in 10 LGBTQ youth feel unsafe in schools, and how 80% of LGBTQ youth report severe social isolation.
Several speakers noted the importance of attuning to intersectionality, that is, “the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group” and how this plays a critical role in creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination, distress and disadvantage for children and their families.
Dr. El comments, “As a clinician, this further emphasized the significance of understanding how my day-to-day worldview may differ vastly from that of my students who identify as LGBTQI+. Furthermore, as a member of an organization dedicated to fostering sustainable growth in youth and families, this also highlighted several points of growth that we have before us from a programmatic vein, and how the impetus falls upon us to face these challenges with the same acceptance, awareness and openness that we ask of our students and our families.”
A highlight of the 3-day conference was the student panel - each of whom shared their experience, their insight, their humor, and their wisdom in remarking on their personal journeys as well as the ways in which those on the other side of the mental health baton can hinder or help them in navigating the worlds before them.
About Pacific Quest
Pacific Quest is an outdoor therapeutic program, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, for struggling adolescents and young adults that offers a clinical, yet holistic, approach to treatment. Our neurodevelopmental approach, combined with horticultural therapy, integrates evidence-based therapeutic methods, whole-person wellness and organic gardening to sustain a healthy community and motivate change. www.pacificquest.org