Creating an Educated and Inclusive Society
The only camp of its kind, Camp Pride’s mission is to “build leadership capacity among LGBT and allied undergraduate college student leaders and to create safer and more inclusive campus communities in the United States,” according to their website.
During the five-day camp, about 60 LGBT and allied students from across the country gathered at Vanderbilt University to take part in various activities with the ultimate goal of creating positive change. Speakers, activists and entertainers spoke with the student leaders throughout the week.
An “advisor bootcamp” also took place at the same time as Camp Pride. This “bootcamp” is geared toward adult professionals who either work with or support LGBT and related issues.
Camp Pride is the only camp geared specifically toward creating educated and motivated undergraduate LGBT leaders. But there are similar camps for younger children as well.
For example, Camp Ten Trees, located in Washington State, is a summer camp that provides one week of camp for LGBT youth and allies and another week of camp for children of LGBT / non-traditional families. At Camp Ten Trees, children can participate in all the usual camping activities. But they can also attend workshops about identity, diversity, homophobia, and more.
These camps and other similar inclusive organizations may positively impact LGBT youth. For example, a lot of research has been done about the importance of Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs). GSAs are school groups that aim to create a safe and welcoming environment for LGBT youth. Researchers found that LGBT youth who attended schools with GSAs showed improved attendance at school, had better relationships, were more comfortable with their sexual orientation and had a greater sense of belonging.
Because of the risk for mental health issues among youth who experience stigma and discrimination, supportive communities and organizations are crucial. The suicide rate for LGBT youth, for example, is 20-40% higher than that of non-LGBT youth. With this in mind, the need for an educated and inclusive community has never been greater.
Bostwick, W.B. (2007). Mental Health Risk Factors Among GLBT Youth. National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Hart, T.A., Heimberg, R.G. (2001). Presenting problems among treatment-seeking gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 57, 615-627.
Lee, C. (2001) The Impact of Belonging to a High School Gay / Straight Alliance.