Pride Month - Fostering positive youth development and LGBTQ+ inclusion

Working with youth has always been my passion. I started my career at Outward Bound Hong Kong to work with disadvantaged youth and marginalised communities, using an experiential-learning approach to promote positive youth development. In the following years, I have also worked as a Student Affairs Officer at HKUST and Program Director at Youth Arch Foundation, closely working with young people.

For our new generation, one of the important things for them is to be included, seen, and accepted for who they are. Research shows nearly 30% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ+. Being LGBTQ+ can cause discrimination and bullying in the youth community. In Hong Kong, according to a 2016 study by the Equal Opportunities Commission, 88% of LGBTQ+ students face discrimination and hostile treatment, often from their peers, teachers, principals, and even counsellors. A 2021 study by The Trevor Project in US found that 42% of the nearly 35,000 LGBTQ+ youth surveyed seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, highlighting the impact of this discrimination. Personally, I have faced discrimination and homophobia based on my sexual orientation earlier in my career, which have caused me significant stress and detriments to my mental health.

In Hong Kong, our sex education lessons still lag behind and often fail to address important issues about gender and sexuality. At KELY, mental health is one of our core pillars, and we advocate for a psychologically safe environment where our youth (LGBTQ+ or not) can voice their concerns and receive appropriate support, such as through our workshops like Talk2Me – Peer Support Programme, Project Connect – Youth Mental Health Referral Service and etc. As a member of the LGBTQ+ community and a LGBTQ+ advocate in my daily work, I understand how critical this support is and the difference it can make in one's life.

I am fortunate to have been invited to the KELY Board in 2022 and have witnessed the organisation's growth in adapting to the current needs of Hong Kong youth. Recently, I was elected as Vice Chair, and I am grateful for the unwavering dedication of the Board, full-time staff, and volunteers to our vision and mission. Our work has truly transformed many lives in the community, and I look forward to contributing even more.

In this Pride month of June, when LGBTQ+ people address the prejudice and challenges faced by the community, I want to share the importance of raising awareness and supporting our LGBTQ+ youth. Please join me in supporting KELY's work in positive youth development and fostering inclusion.

If you are inspired by our work and would like to help us continue making a difference, please consider making a donation to support KELY Support Group. Your contribution can make a real impact.

This article was written for and a featured piece in KELY’s monthly Newsletter. To subscribe, please click here.