On Tuesday, April 20th, YES Prep hosted its fourth Pride Plus Summit. This year's co-leads were thrilled with the opportunity to create a safe space where students could build community with others even in the time of COVID-19. This was especially important because of the isolating effects of the pandemic that have disproportionately impacted LGBTQ youth. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, students couldn’t all come together like normal, so the co-leads recreated the summit experience on 11 participating campuses.
Day of the Summit
The morning of the summit, students arrived at their home campuses in order to prepare for a 10:15 a.m. start time. Before the summit began, students were presented with summit swag, including a tie-dyed shirt and a sticker sheet created by YES Prep’s amazing Communications & Marketing Team! Then, campuses participated in a variety of sessions, including:
Thoughts On Being Happy, Healthy, and Queer. Presented by Dr. Hill from Baylor College of Medicine, this session focused on how queer students could maintain their mental health and practice self-care during a time that is particularly challenging to do so.
Embroidery. Students watched a short instructional video provided by the amazing M.B. Students were given embroidery hoops, cloth, and threads and embroidered a wide variety of things—from initials to rainbows and everything in between.
History & Current Events. Pre-recorded sessions done by B K. and J.W. gave students insight into the history of queer Americans and issues past and present that we felt were important for students to know about.
Lunch! Students were provided with delicious lunches from Jason’s Deli and had an opportunity to use materials placed in their summit preparation boxes to create a photo booth. They also had an opportunity to learn about different LGBTQ organizations and resources. During this time, campus leaders were present in classrooms, sharing messages of support either through a video or in-person message.
Self-Care Practice Session. After learning about great self-care techniques from Dr. Hill, students were shown a plant tutorial from J.C. and given a plant and planting materials so that they could experience a self-care technique that many have picked up during the pandemic.
Cross-Campus Team Building. To wrap up our summit, students were strategically placed by region to participate in various team builders designed by C.P., B.B., and C.G. It was so wonderful to see students from across the district participate in these team builders, especially when they were challenged with creating outfits out of toilet paper and other fun supplies before strutting their stuff down the classroom runways.
Closing Session. All campuses came together for closing remarks inspired by our t-shirt designs quote by Raquel Willis: “As we commit to each other to build this movement of resistance and liberation, no one can be an afterthought.”
A huge shoutout to all campus-based staff who worked hard to execute the Pride Plus Summit on your campuses this year. We know it was a bigger lift than usual, and it was clear to us (even virtually) that you all care so much for your students and are committed to creating spaces and opportunities for them where they can be 100% their authentic selves and have pride in their sexual orientation & gender identity.
About the YES Prep Annual Affinity Summits
In 2016, YES Prep revised its core values to better reflect the reason it was founded: to eliminate educational inequities and advance social justice. As part of this focus, YES Prep expanded its efforts to provide opportunities for students to develop pride in their identities and build relationships within the communities with which they identify. YES Prep believes that these efforts will strengthen students’ support systems and build their self-confidence, increasing the likelihood of their success in college and beyond.
To learn more about our Affinity Summits, click here.