265904 Out & Allied Project: Faith-based dialogue, performance, and the cultivation of allies for LGBTQ youth

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cathy Plourde, MA , Add Verb Productions, Westbrook College of Health Professions, University of New England, Portland, ME
Issues: Spirituality and religion factor heavily into the lives of youth. There is disparity between the clergy's perception of the prevalence of non hetero-normative identification, and actual diversity; additionally, there is disparity between youth and clergy perceptions about approachability and communication on this issue. With what is known about increased risk in multiple areas of health and wellness with the LGBTQ population—everything from seatbelt use to homelessness to suicide—it is imperative that congregations consider how to create safe and welcoming space for this population. Description: Add Verb, a program of the University of New England, has developed an arts-based approach to cultivating allies in communities for LGBTQ youth. Working in partnership with Maine's Religious Coalition Against Discrimination Add Verb has activated youth, adult advocates, and clergy members in utilizing performance for faith-based dialogue. The process involves devising and developing new works (plays, monologues, poetry, music), as well as performing, cultivation of an open and welcoming space. The program is adept at honoring difference, discomfort, and humanity. Lessons Learned: It is imperative to incorporate positive and realistic models of faith-based inclusion of LGBTQ youth in communities. Performance and arts offer opportunity for self-expression, creative problem solving, and framing a future where discourse can occur. Recommendations: It is not enough to raise awareness: programming requires attention to follow-up, access to resources, and a commitment to a process of engagement.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Diversity and culture
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
By the end of this presentation participants will be able to: 1. explain how the performance-for-activism project supports healthy congregations 2. identify strategies to keep the mission youth-driven and alleviate adult fears 3. discuss the advantages and challenges of working with youth within faith-based communities for LGBTQ support

Keywords: Faith Community, Health Activism

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have mentored youth and youth workers on this performance-for-activism in the area of health and wellness, and the cultivation of allies for LGBTQ youth, creating an anthology and handbook for this work. I have presented about this project and other aspects of my work nationally and internationally.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.