Hi, I’m Haley Sanders-Turner, a senior at Columbus North International and a Post-Secondary student at The Ohio State University. My hobbies include reading, programming, and advocating for various issues, including LGBTQ issues, of course. I’m able to cause change in my community via the opportunities afforded me by the Kaleidoscope Youth Center, in Columbus, Ohio.
Columbus is a vastly diverse city, and is the capital of Ohio. Though many associate Ohio with sprawling corn fields and other agricultural pursuits, but Columbus truly expresses the other identities of Ohioans; fierce, dedicated to change, and aiming for the future. This is evident in the aims of KYC Connect, the Ohio GSA network; to unite GSAs from across urban, suburban and rural Ohio. I and several other youth work to accomplish this goal by participating in the KYC- Connect Youth Leadership Council—or YLC for short.
As a member of the Youth Leadership Council, I’ve been able to learn from and interact with other youth leaders in Columbus. YLC aims to encourage other youth to become and or continue to be leaders in their communities by getting involved and calling still others to action. The YLC organizes and executes various leadership and group training events for youth leaders and their GSAs, including the Ohio GSA Summit, of which there will be two this year. Beyond our leadership training, we also host many events aimed at advocating, the most recent of which was in honor of the National Week of Action Against School Push Out.
At this event, we played with Life. We orchestrated a life-sized Game of Life, in a K-12 style, in order to advocate about the School to Prison Pipeline— the tendency of LGBTQ youth, People of Color and the Handicapable to be more harshly disciplined in school than people of other identities. Each player was given a racially and socioeconomically diverse character, and the goal of each character was to make it to graduation— the final event in the game. Other than graduation, there are three events, all centered around a different piece of the Pipeline, whether it was zero tolerance on behavior, clothes, or tardiness. During each round, each player could only roll certain numbers in order to avoid being pushed out of school or jailed. These numbers were specific to each identity represented. For example, the Caucasian student could roll any number except 2 or 4, while the Hispanic student could only roll a 3 or 5. This life-sized model of the School to Prison pipeline was able to educate not only participants but also passerby in the unbalanced distribution of discipline in US schools. Events such as this demonstration are but a few of the ways in which we educate the public about issues such as the School to Prison Pipeline.
The Youth Leadership Council and KYC Connect have been central in my development as a leader. These groups have enabled me to reach out and actively work to change the position of LGBTQ youth in the movement, as well as in my own community.
Ahoy mermaids and sailors of the world. My name’s Jacob, but you can call me Jay or any other friendly variation you can think of. I’m currently living in Ohio and am a junior in the K12 homeschooling program. I always feel a bit odd when I read of the horror stories of kids my age coming out. In retrospect I feel like I’ve had it incredibly easy. I find myself always joking with my friends saying that “I was never in so I never had to come out”. When I was nine I remember casually telling my parents one night at dinner that I was attracted to a boy in my music class. To me this only seemed natural, and thankfully my parents didn’t think much of it either, treating it as if it was something any other boy would tell his parents after a long day at school. Aside from music, I’ve always had a love for animals, reading, and a few scattered sports.
Growing up I always found it odd when I would hear kids use words like “fag” or use gay in a negative connotation in school, I never really thought I was any different than most kids; I ate in the same cafeteria at lunch, played on the same jungle gym at recess, and griped about the same teachers as they did. I also had always thought that liking boys was (for a lack of better wording) “The right thing”. I mean think about it; boys in my neighborhood basically segregated themselves from the girls. At recess boys would run around in the field surrounding the playground play wrestling and bragging about how fantastic at Pokemon they were. I always felt like the outlier in this equation, I found myself on some days I wanted to play in the field, and on others I wanted swing and play four square with the girls.
My school life went like this all up until high school. Before transferring into homeschooling, I was a student at Columbus North International High School. It was very different from middle and elementary school; no one cared about anyone’s said gender or sexual orientation because everybody was too busy just trying to discover themselves I guess. It’s also when I first became involved in Kaleidoscope Youth Center. Getting involved here changed my personality completely. I went from just being another kid to being a youth leader. I applied and became a member of KYC Connects Youth Leadership Council, in which I helped organize LGBTQI youth related activities such as the annul GSA Summit and Other Prom ( A prom dedicated to LGBTQI youth and allies ).
I feel like Kaleidoscope Youth Center is just the beginning of my advocacy. This organization has inspired me to want to make a difference for other LGBTQI youth not only on a citywide level, but hopefully a statewide maybe even national level. I’m Jay, giving everyone a big nautical hello from Ohio!
KYC Youth and Staff. Please feel free to comment and recommend topics for future posts. Youth posts are anonymous due to the confidentiality of the Center.