Yesterday was a big day in Montana. As a Regional Officer, I’m often asked to show up and speak on a number of issues impacting LGBTQ+ communities. I’ve been fortunate to be working with the Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence (MCADSV) over the last two months on a Youth Engagement Project to center and elevate youth voices while also confronting and working to break down adultism – behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people and entitled to act on their behalf, and without their permission. This is often reinforced through the implementation of policies and programs across all sectors.
Thanks to MCADSV, I was able to co-present with a Youth Action Board Member on the importance of centering the voices of youth experts on the issue of youth homelessness, particularly with the disproportionate impact of housing instability of LGBTQ+ youth, and particularly youth of color. Hanah Jensen, provided the Youth Action Board’s Vision Statement and a list of priorities they have outlined moving forward. She talked about experiences where adult providers didn’t always listen to what she actually needed. The Youth Action Board will be instrumental moving forward in leading the work on what’s most needed and necessary for youth facing homelessness in Montana.
While we had this incredible opportunity to discuss the Youth Action Board work, we also headed over to the State Capitol for a press conference with local Regional Directors and Administrators with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development who presented the Montana Continuum of Care with a check for $3,427,682 for a Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program Planning Grant. Hanah and I were both able to speak to the importance of Montana being chosen as a rural community by HUD, and how much we’re looking forward to working on this with community partners across the state.
It was indeed a busy day, but it was exciting to be a part of so much youth-centered work happening in the Big Sky State.
Kim Leighton is Pride Foundation Regional Officer in Montana.