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SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

SOCO Student Media from Colorado State University Pueblo

The Today

‘Be the adult you needed when you were a young person’

Photo Courtesy Liss Smith

Advocate reflects on the importance of representation

By Noelle Redmond

According to, “Protective School Climates and Reduced Risk for Suicide Ideation in Sexual Minority Youths,” published in the American Journal of Public Health: “school, local, city and state policy have all been shown to have an impact on LGBTQIA2+ students’ risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts.”

Ensuring that young LGBTQ+ youths have access to equity and power from adults working to make them feel safe is exactly what Inside Out Youth Services (IOYS) strives to accomplish. Liss Smith, communications manager for IOYS, made it clear that the mission ran deep within them.

LGBTQ+ youths really see and feel the impact of the voices negating and building them up everyday. According to The Trevor Project 2021 survey on LGBTQ Yo

Photo Courtesy Liss Smith

uth Mental Health, 94% of LGBTQ+ youth report that the current political climate negatively impacts their mental health or sense of self.”

Talking about queer topics lately has been a touchy subject throughout the masses; however, Smith and IOYS have seen the impacts first hand on these LGBTQ+ youths. 

“Growing up, you just had to pray you came across a gay person in a book in time to figure out why you felt so different,” Smith said. 

Young people really internalize and wonder who they are now a days, questioning if they are “the right kind of queer” and examine relationships with identity and self worth, Smith went on to talk about. Closing off access to media representation can prove to be more harmful than good. 

“It distills our beautiful selves to one single little piece,” Smith said.

With this in mind, Smith also discussed the positive aspects that IOYS can bring to the table for young people. Within the organization, Discord, a messaging platform where different servers can be themed for different discussions, servers are used as a way to mass connect people all over Colorado. 

Smith said it sparks joy when teens have conversations surrounding books and other media that  offer authentic and realistic LGBTQ+ representation. 

“You should be able to see yourself as the hero of something,” they said.

As an organization, IOYS also approaches the idea of “role model” a little differently than some. Smith explained it as, “be the adult you needed when you were a young person.” 

Their goal is less about being a role model and more about being authentic towards the young people.

Having a single trusted adult in a young person’s life can reduce the risk of suicide by up to 50%. In turn, the adults in LGBTQ+ youths’ lives can be just as valuable as representation in the media. Even as a general rule, we need someone older than us sometimes to help us through things.

Read More

The Summer of Winters

Small town censorship

    Queer stories and helping young adults find themselves

  Jason’s Writing Agenda

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