Dr Mhairi Crawford: "I’m inspired and motivated by their passion, energy, and hope - they help me believe that the future is in safe hands"
Whatever the subject, it is an undeniable fact that change has, and always will, come from young people; standing up, speaking out and challenging the status quo.
Those in the LGBTQ+ community, who may consider themselves to be an 'ex young person', may remember the lack of social power and the intense struggle to just be listened to by the older generations who held it.
Today, things have changed for the better, but there is still a long way to go in ensuring our communities are represented - and that starts like it always has done, by supporting and listening to young people.
The next generation is full of inspiring and passionate young people who want to make sure they can live their life with the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. This is underpinned by the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) which states that young people have a right to be heard and respected.
In recognition of this, LGBT Youth Scotland’s work is about meeting a young person where they are at, supporting them to flourish, and providing them with the tools to challenge policies and political rhetoric which threatens their rights.
Meaningful participation ensures passionate young people can use their voice to change things for the better, creating tangible lasting change for themselves and others. Over the last five years our young people have engaged on topics important to them: trans rights, domestic abuse, care experience and homelessness, all of which have been involved in influencing political policy and practice.
These Youth Commissioners have been at the forefront of policy decisions, holding meetings with political figures, providing evidence to committees, and sharing their experiences across a wide range of parties, combined with tangible recommendations and actions for policy makers to implement.
We’re encouraged by the Scottish Government who recognise the growing need for children and young people’s participation in decision making and policy design and ensuring approaches are meaningful, coordinated, and sustainable and, importantly, are looking to fund this, but would call for them to build on “The Right Way”; as developed by the Scottish Youth Parliament in 2022.
An excellent example of this, is the Scottish Youth Parliament elections. We are excited to build on the work of our two MSYP’s who are doing a fantastic job at representing their peers by advocating for LGBTQ+ rights.
I am immensely proud of the work we undertake at LGBT Youth Scotland, and we are committed to continuing to amplify young people’s voices to those in power. None of this would be possible without the crucial insight from the incredible young people we work with daily.
I’m inspired and motivated by their passion, energy, and hope - they help me believe that the future is in safe hands. And so, the rest is up to us, the older generation who make up the majority - we must ensure that our young people are given as many opportunities as possible to inform and be involved in any decisions that will impact their right to flourish and thrive.
Dr Mhairi Crawford is chief executive of LGBT Youth Scotland. For more information on LGBT Youth Scotland, please visit: https://www.lgbtyouth.org.uk/