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14th Annual Iowa Governor's Conference on LGBTQ Youth

Hosted by: Iowa Safe Schools

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How does alcohol and other drug misuse affect your community?

LGBTQ youth are more likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors like underage drinking and binge drinking due to their marginalized community status. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBTQ youth also are shown to participate in underage drinking and substance misuse at three times the rate of their heterosexual peers. Prevention methods for youth in Iowa do not address the specific needs or concerns of marginalized community members, and they do not address the compounding factors that influence the rate of substance misuse.

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What challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Needed additional resources to conduct activity
  • Inexperience hosting Communities Talk activities
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How did you overcome these challenges?

Iowa Safe Schools enlisted the help of a community partner—Jodee Goche of Alliance for Communities for Change, who held similar prevention events in the past—to serve as a content expert during one of the conference workshops called Communities Talk: A Conversation on Drugs, Alcohol, and Organizing for Change. We worked with her to ensure that the event was executed correctly through a student-first lens. We wanted the students to be empowered in their conversation so we used our expertise as an organization in knowing LGBTQ students and in working with Jodee as an amazing expert on teen alcohol/drug use to braid together a session where they could talk freely about these challenges. The event was strengthened from partnering with her, and it helped us engage students in a way that was meaningful and interactive.

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What are your next steps?

  • Create new action groups to tackle specific issues raised during our Communities Talk activity
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • Communities Talk website
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How did a Communities Talk event help you address those issues?

  • Mobilized coalition members or other stakeholders
  • Educated youth and parents
  • Built community cohesiveness and support for our efforts
  • Created an opportunity to share resources and practices with other community stakeholders
  • Made making good health behavior choices fun and engaging
  • Raised awareness of substance abuse and/or underage drinking issues in our community
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How did your event make an impact on underage drinking in your community?

Youth who attended the 14th Annual Iowa Governor’s Conference on LGBTQ Youth learned how to better articulate the needs for community prevention methods, in addition to how they can mobilize efforts at their school. Many gay-straight alliance or gender sexuality alliance groups that attended the event connected with each other and traded ideas on prevention efforts. Students and parents connected with school administrators and educators to communicate the needs of LGBTQ youth and the lack of support and resources in Iowa schools.

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