Monthly Archives: October 2018

Empowering LGBTQIA+ Youth and Promoting Parent/Professional Allyship: Models of Pride

Last week I was at a great talk in which Scott McCloud talked about stories being driven by desire. As long as the desire lives and unfolds, the story is unfolding and being driven. Yesterday I was reminded of McCloud’s framing of stories at the 2018 Models of Pride conference. As a parent I attended for my nonbinary child, and as an LGBTQIA ally I attended for the learning community I serve as the teacher librarian at El Cajon Valley High School. We can think of our personal development, our life, as the unfolding of a personal story. What we desire out of life moves us forward. Our desires keep us going. So, how does this connect to empowering LGBTQIA+ youth?

We should value everyone in our community. We should strive to create learning communities in which we welcome each other. We should seek inclusion. This is how things should be, but this is not the way things are. Groups of young people on our campuses get marginalized. Often, they face that same marginalization outside of school.

At the Models of Pride conference, Michael Anthony-Nalepa shared that thanks to neuroplasticity, long term suffering and damage can be caused when young people are forced to endure prolonged, sustained negativity around their LGBTQIA+ identity. How can allies seek to empower LGBTQIA+ youth in this context? We’re not able to change institutions overnight; we can’t change the hearts of those clinging to bigotry and hatred with a snap of our fingers; and we can’t be everywhere to call others out when they seek to dehumanize our LGBTQIA+ youth. What can we do?

Michael Anthony-Nalepa discussing LGBTQIA+ empowerment

Michael Anthony-Nalepa advocates using double listening as a way to listen for the desires of LGBTQIA+ youth. What he means is that as LGBTQIA+ youth express their frustrations and their traumas to us, we should listen in two ways. Yes, listen to bear witness to what our young people have to deal with, but also listen to their underlying desires. Their story, their path of empowerment, is wrapped up in those underlying desires. What do they desire? That desire is linked to what they hope for. What hope is wrapped up in that desire? Hope is what we do, what we have, when we have faith that our future can be better. Desire is what we do, what we have, when we believe we can achieve something better than what we have. When our LGBTQIA+ youth share with us, what do their stories reveal about their self value?

Helping LGBTQIA+ youth reach a statement like, “I want to be loved and accepted” reflects an underlying that desire is a belief that “I deserve to be loved and accepted.” That statement, that recognition of a desire to be loved and accepted, reflects a moment of empowerment.

To me, this is a beautiful, empowering way to view being an ally for LGBTQIA youth.

So, each and every time that we see marginalized individuals standing up and speaking out about the shit they have to put up with, we should recognize that as a moment of empowerment–of a switch being flipped–wherein a statement is being made about their value.

If we agree that we all have value, that we all have rights, that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, then we should respect those individuals that we see in our communities who are being themselves in spite of how the world treats them for who they are. They are some of the host human people in our communities. Celebrate them. Be there for them. Love them. Support them.

My child had an amazing time at the youth events. This conference did a great job of providing amazing youth activities/sessions as well as positive, useful, authentic learning experiences for parents and professionals seeking to empower our LGBTQIA+ youth. I’m looking forward to the 2019 Models of Pride conference in Los Angeles.

Certificates to all attendees!

The conference started with several brief talks from members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community

Your PLN is Awesome, but Be Sure to Get Out There IRL

I value the fact that I have a virtual professional learning network. I love scrolling through Twitter to see what thoughts or resources are being shared by educators and creators that I follow. But nothing replaces going to professional learning opportunities in person. And if you can find an event that combines your personal interests but still relates to your professional learning, then go for it! Get out there!

I was in line for an event this year’s San Diego Comic Con, scrolling through Twitter, and I saw that Hank Green would be in town for his book tour. I follow Hank Green a little on YouTube and I listen to a couple of his podcasts, and I’m one of the many folks out there who are attracted to what he says and how he says it online. In an online universe that can be so toxic and shallow, Hank Green works to show us what can be good about how we conduct ourselves online. So, I bought the ticket to his book tour appearance while waiting in line for The Adventure Zone.

Hank Green on stage with a guitar

Hank Green at the USD/Warwick’s Event

Fast forward to October 4th at USD, my friend and colleague Stephanie Macceca and I were in the crowd getting treated to a high quality experience. The audience was very positive, Hank Green and Dianna Cowern were smart and funny. And Hank ended the show with a great mini-talk on holding on to our humanity as we build our online identities.

After getting to meet Hank Green at the meet and greet event (very nice of Hank to hang out for this, he’s so patient

Anthony and Hank Green at the Warwick's USD event

Anthony and Hank Green at the Warwick’s USD event

with people like me who are no good at brief interactions with people who are famous on the Internet), I spent the following weekend reading all of An Absolutely Remarkable Thing. I loved it. I loved it in the context of having gone to Green’s book tour event and hearing his talk on humanity in online spaces. I’m so glad I got out there for this event.




Then, just last Wednesday, I was browsing online while at my daughter’s Jiu Jitsu class (because, I love that she is sticking with this thing, but it’s not always enthralling as a bystander), I found out that Scott McCloud would be talking THE NEXT DAY at the San Diego Public Library. How lucky am I that I just happened to notice a post on an event that is right up my alley as a comics lover interested in how we make meaning from what/how we perceive?!

The cover of Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics

A copy of McCloud’s Understanding Comics that was donated to my school by SDCC years ago

A stamp saying donated by San Diego Comic Con

So cool to be flipping through this copy to see this stamp

So, while my daughter pinned down her latest sparring partner in Jiu Jistsu, I registered for the event. I also registered my 15-year-old, Neva, because I didn’t want to go alone, and I knew as an artist, they would value what McCloud had to say about the way our minds interact with visuals.


Again, I love that I am building a PLN that helps me stay connected to educational discussions that energize me and the direction I want to go in my career. But nothing can replace getting out there and attending high quality events, especially when those events are in line with your personal interests. Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities feed your personal and professional curiosities. Get out there!

Neva and Anthony at the San Diego Public Library in front of an art display

Yeah… I wore the same shirt to this event

A slide from a presentation: there are no neutral visual decisions

There are no neutral visual decisions

Scott McCloud on stage with a stick

Scott McCloud on stage with a stick