By Sarah Davin
According to a 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention survey on sexual identity and health-related behaviors, 29.4 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students answered that they had attempted suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey, and many more, 42.8 percent, contemplated suicide.
A new show—All Things LGBTQ Youth Edition—on Onion River Community Access Media (ORCA) hopes to address this serious issue and others by giving area LGBTQ students a platform to discuss gender- and sexuality-related themes. “It’s really important for young people’s voices to get heard because in some ways they are probably more on top of what’s happening with that generation and the needs of that community,” said Linda Quinlan, who co-hosts the adult edition, All Things LGBTQ, with Anne Charles and Keith Goslant. “I really wanted to have a show that gave a voice to young people, especially since there is so much depression and suicide in this demographic.”
Youth Edition is hosted by Montpelier High School student Jules Caserta and Main Street Middle School student Sophia “Steve” Flora. During each hour-long episode, the two, along with other LGBTQ students, aspire to educate and connect with fellow youths and allies. “From my point of view,” said Sophia, “we do a lot by talking about certain topics that we think other people should be educated about. We want to help create support and a safe space. We can show them how to do that and teach them how to find the help that they need.”
The show also creates a venue in which topics that might otherwise be avoided are brought to the front. “We talk about the things you don’t really hear being talked about, especially by youths,” explained Jules. “Our youth edition had an ‘Aro and Ace’ episode, so aromantic and asexual. I am ‘ace,’ so I knew about romantic love. I learned so much more about platonic love and different kinds of love, like familiar and aromantic. It was an amazing experience to sit down with people who are aro and ace and get to talk with them about it.”
“We did a mental illness episode where we talked about self harm and suicide. As a youth, you don’t have a lot of resources. The point was to be a resource.” Youth Edition has also highlighted other issues such as labels, how to be an ally, and a special transgender panel was featured in episode four.
Moving forward, Youth Edition would like to incorporate more voices and opinions by inviting guests to the show. “I think it would be very cool to be able to interview people,” Sophia offered, “to include other people instead of just talking amongst ourselves. I think it would be cool to eventually have a discussion with an adult peer and see what is going on from their point of view.” Jules added, “We definitely don’t have a shortage of new ideas. We have so many ideas we want to cover and so many shows we want to do.”
It’s an experience that students like Sophia have found rewarding. “I think it’s been a really good opportunity for me,” said Sophia, “I’ve actually come across a lot of people who say, ‘Oh, you’re this person. I’ve seen you on the show.’”
Supporting fresh voices like the ones featured on the show requires community awareness and engagement. “For Youth Edition, the biggest thing you can do to support it is to keep watching and listening. Try to spread it around,” explained Jules. A new episode of the show is filmed each month. The show is nearing its one-year anniversary after its 11th episode was filmed in January.
For anyone interested in watching and supporting All Things LGBTQ Youth Edition, the episodes can be watched on demand at orcamedia.net/series/all-things-lgbtq or on ORCA’s YouTube channel. All Things LGBTQ runs on Saturdays at 8 pm, Tuesdays at 1 pm, and Fridays at 10 am, with the adult and youth editions incorporated into the adult edition’s cycle.