June marks Pride Month and in celebration, we’re highlighting a few of our LGBTQ+ volunteers and their commitment to young people and Peer Health Exchange’s mission.
Name: Audrey Chapman
Pronouns in use: She/Her
College/ University: UC Berkeley
What have you gained and/or learned from volunteering at Peer Health Exchange?
Peer Health Exchange ignited my passion for teaching high school students and showed me how insightful young people can be when they are given the opportunity to have open discussions about serious topics. Some of my most rewarding experiences with Peer Health Exchange were seeing all of the creative posters my students made about mental health advocacy after their teacher thought they wouldn’t put much effort into the activity, seeing a quieter student gain confidence and a voice, or being asked a complex question about a health topic and learning something new along with my students.
What does health equity mean to you?
Health equity means that everybody has access to the knowledge and resources that allow them to take control of their own healthcare, make decisions about their own health, and have options about treatments. True health equity is not having the barriers of socioeconomics, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or race impede someone’s ability to access any of the healthcare resources that they desire or need.
Give an example of a proud moment at Peer Health Exchange where you encouraged greater acceptance or support for all young people.
My students were writing a response to a scenario about a gay couple. Two of the students wrote in their response that they think one of the gay characters should “go straight”. Even though this may seem like a small thing, I was concerned about it encouraging a heteronormative, homophobic narrative. Instead of lecturing the students, I questioned them further about why they think this would happen to the character; what made you think that this character’s sexuality might change? What would be the benefit of this? As we talked about it, I saw the students reflect on their own prejudices and it seemed that they walked away from the conversation with a better understanding of why their response was potentially harmful. I was proud of being able to engage in this conversation with them in a calm manner, purely through questioning their mindsets rather than pushing my own opinion on them in a forceful way.
What is one thing that we could all do to support LGBTQ+ youth?
I think representation is so important. I was really happy to see the variety of gender/sexual orientation in scenarios we worked through in our PHE workshops. I also think that creating open, safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and allies is important in helping young people to realize that they are not alone in what they are facing, and allowing them to build connections with others.
What are you doing to practice self-care this month?
I am currently in between graduating from college and starting in the workforce, and I am trying to allow myself to feel okay with finally taking some time off for myself to just relax, since this is the first time in years where I no longer have to think about deadlines and completing my degree, and the last time I will not have to constantly be thinking about my career. Self-care for me this month has been a combination of routine things like keeping up with my meditation practice and making sure to get some sunshine every day, to mindset changes like allowing myself to occasionally take that 1-hour bubble bath or sleep in until noon on the weekend, and realizing that I don’t need to constantly be doing something productive.