VOICES of Kentuckiana
Youth Outreach Program
Music & Message
VOICES of Kentuckiana’s YOUTH OUTREACH PROGRAM began in the fall of 2014 in an effort to bring our music and our message of acceptance and equality to local high schools students. We are working with high school Gay Straight Alliances and diversity groups to help students find their own voice of acceptance.
According to the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), 90% of LGBT students hear anti-LGBT comments in school – an average of 26 anti-LGBT comments each day. Representing LGBTA people from many walks of life, our singers share a common experience with these students - our past is often their present. With that in mind, we offer the following:
VOICES provides complimentary tickets to our concerts to students and their teachers.
VOICES members visit high school Gay Straight Alliance meetings to let the students know about VOICES of Kentuckiana; to share a glimpse into the lives of our diverse singers and our experiences with VOICES; and to foster positive discussions with students.
VOICES offers guest speakers from local organizations to share their life experiences and LGBT history.
VOICES works with GSAs and diversity groups on special projects.
VOICES Artistic and Managing Director works with high school choruses to join us for special concert projects.
VOICES has visited high schools in Jefferson, Shelby and Oldham counties as well as the Louisville Youth Group.
Please contact VOICES Artistic and Managing Director Amanda Boyd at firstname.lastname@example.org with all requests for visits or for complimentary tickets to a VOICES concert.
Sharing Our Stories
from Jeff Buhrman, former VOICES Artistic Director
Lena Waithe, the first African-American woman to win a writing Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series at the recent Emmy Awards gave an acceptance speech in which she spoke to her "LGBTQIA family." "The things that make us different – those are our superpowers. Every day when you walk out the door and put on your imaginary cape, go out there and conquer the world because the world would not be as beautiful as it is if we weren't in it."
I shared a story on the Pride stage from a teacher and GSA advisor who recently shared it with me. One of her high school students came out as transgender to her and another GSA advisor. The student wanted some tips on coming out to his family. She described the student as "incredibly happy." He had struggled for years to figure this out, and was finally able to announce it "so firmly, so proudly." And he was ready to "share it with the world." The teacher did what she always does...she supported the student right where he was at that moment. They talked about his deeply religious family and discussed red flags about sharing too much too soon.
The student did come out to the people he loved the most — his mom and grandparents — with devastating results. He tried to tell them it was okay to be LGBT, but they were not accepting or supportive. The mother called the school, slammed the two teachers who were involved and demanded that if her son talked to either of them, she was to be notified by the school. The teacher shared the following with me: "I pray that he understands our caring for him, and he will continue to use his resources to be himself/herself and to be brave. So keep singing loud and clear for my student for all of our youth."
The student has reached out to the teachers through a friend but has had no direct contact. And the teachers clearly worry a great deal about this student and all of their students.
Unfortunately, this story is a common one. I read the same story in yesterday's daily advice column (Dear Annie or something like that) in the Courier-Journal. A young person came out to his/her parents and they reacted horribly. The child's family will no longer include him/her in any family activities, in visits to relatives, or in any holiday celebrations. They will allow the child to remain in their house until he/she is 18 and then they will disown their child.
We will be visiting high school Gay, Straight, Transgender Alliances this season to share a positive message, to be affirming and supportive. We will tell them about VOICES. We'll talk about what we do, invite them to our concerts (we give them free tickets), and focus specifically on our April concert, WE BELONG. As we did with our April 2016 concert BRAVE AND BEAUTIFUL we are going to ask for their help with the concert. I'd like to discuss the concept of "belonging" with them...that innate human desire we all have to feel like we are part of something, to fit in and find approval. As we all search to find our own true, authentic self in a society that is not always accepting, we want our music to be inspiring and uplifting.