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What are the ways we could expand services and support available to LGBT young people online?
May 2, 2012 8:22 AM   Subscribe

What are the ways we could expand services and support available to LGBT young people online?

I have to convince a panel that I'm the person to increase the online reach of a UK-based LGBT youth charity, giving young people greater access to advice, support and opportunities. We want to reach more LGBT young people, particularly those living outside of cities, and to better use the varying resources of the online world to support those that we reach.

I'm already planning to talk about Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, phone, forums & email contact (plus producing videos & podcasts) - though if you have anything specific to offer in how to use these services in this context your help would be welcomed.

I'm more interested in what I'm missing. What novel ways might such an organisation reach out to young people online? Are there social networks/websites I'm not aware of that we might usefully expand into? How could we best use them? Am I thinking too narrowly?

I'm especially interested to hear from anyone who is LGBT who has insight into the kind of online presence and services they would like to see, or would have liked to have been available in their youth. What was missing for you that we could provide for LGBT young people now?

I appreciate this is a pretty open question, but any thoughts, suggestions or advice you can provide would be very much appreciated. Thank you!
posted by Kirn to Technology (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
My suggestion is to help bring the LGBT StackExchange into fruition and make it popular. StackExchange does advice better than any other platform right now. Here's an explanation of how StackExchange sites work.
posted by michaelh at 8:31 AM on May 2, 2012


Live chat (during certain hours) is a good option. Break the Cycle, a U.S.-based teen dating violence organization incorporates live chat and many of the other elements you listed in their work.
posted by anya32 at 8:39 AM on May 2, 2012


I would make sure to have mechanisms in place to allow young people to participate with complete anonymity (so don't make Facebook the centerpiece).
posted by Wordwoman at 9:10 AM on May 2, 2012


My only advice is to go where they already are, say like the Circle List 10 years ago, rather than trying to get them to come to you, your website, your forums, call your phone lines, etc. Find them and participate in their environments rather than trying to convince them to adopt yours.
posted by rhizome at 9:49 AM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a variety of hotlines that are phone based and are answered 24/7 but I wonder if younger people would be more comfortable with a 24/7 online counseling/advice service like a hotline run by well-trained volunteers.
posted by mareli at 10:50 AM on May 2, 2012


Um, I found *really really really detailed* downloadable pdfs about sexual health very useful as a young'un, you may guess they're not getting lgbt-appropriate sexual health guidance at school.

Being involved in activism is one of the best ways for people to feel better about themselves. Even if you're not willing to take on a massive network of young people running regional groups, maybe try to have some opportunities for young people to take leadership roles in their region (and see if you can have options which are both public-facing and visible, and more discreet volunteering).

Be clear that you're not letting anyone fall through the gaps. I.e.- do your volunteers have the expertise to direct young trans people, young LGBT sex workers, people who can't up and move to the big city because they're stuck in a regional council housing system, etc, to appropriate resources? Make sure that knowledge and expertise is made very visible in your web presence. Then none of those folk think 'oh that's not for me, that's only for middle-class cis kids who are struggling with coming out'. Sometimes support groups for LGBT kids have a brand of all rainbows and sunlight and helping people self-realize, which is cool, but it turns off young people who are facing even tougher shit than the average.

Also I'm sure your budget is limited, but if people are just coming out, sometimes they love being rewarded for volunteering/participating with rainbow/triangle shit! Pins, bangles, there was nothing more awesome to me as a newly brave sixteen-year-old.

If you can afford it try to have an advertising presence in all the lgbt media you can think of, kids pore over even awful mags like Diva.
posted by pickingupsticks at 1:14 PM on May 3, 2012


Thanks very much everyone, this has all been very helpful and instructive - and points to pickingupsticks for knocking it out of the park on the last answer!
posted by Kirn at 7:36 AM on May 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


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