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: Danielle Grubb
Pronouns in use: she/her/hers
College/ University: University of Chicago
Major: Gender & Sexuality Studies
What have you gained and/or learned from volunteering at Peer Health Exchange?
Besides the incredible community of people, I’ve gained a deeper understanding of education. Regardless of what career path I end up taking, I know being able to educate those around me and how to be educated by the people I come in contact with will be a useful skill.
What does health equity mean to you?
Advancing health equity for all means recognizing the many systems/institutions that come into play with accessing healthcare. Fighting for health equity gives people the resources and support they need in the face of institutional barriers while fighting to get rid of these barriers as well.
Give an example of a proud moment at Peer Health Exchange where you encouraged greater acceptance or support for all young people.
I had a student remark that a man in one the alcohol ads we show looked like “a qu**r.”* I stopped the class and explained what that word means to different people, and a couple of the student’s friends jumped in and helped me by saying things like “dude listen to her, it’s ok to be gay!” I was pretty nervous starting that conversation, but the support from many members of the class was heartwarming and I think we really helped change the student’s mind!
What is one thing that we could all do to support LGBTQ+ youth?
A very easy thing to do is to listen and believe youth. If they say they are a certain identity, believe them! Do the necessary education yourself if it is something you do not understand, but it’s likely the youth has thought about what they’re sharing with you for a long time, so trust what they have to say.
What are you doing to practice self-care this month?
I am going to take advantage of all the free concerts/movies/festivals that Chicago has to offer! Spending time with friends outdoors is the ultimate self-care for me.
*Editor’s Note: Agency and communication are important to us at Peer Health Exchange (they’re two of our core values!). Which is why as editors of our blog, we had a lengthy discussion of how we would handle one part of this post: Audrey’s use of a word that is often used as a homophobic slur by members outside of the LGBTQ+ community to describe what was said by a high school student in a very powerful moment in the classroom. The whole point of our Volunteer Voices series is to spotlight volunteers in their own words—and beyond editing for clarity or brevity—we don’t censor them. However, as an organization rooted in equity (another core value), we also have an obligation to spotlight opportunities for growth, learning, and inclusion while not amplifying or recreating painful or traumatic moments. That said, these discussions helped us reach a decision to redact any offensive word in any piece, with an explanation of why we did so. Language is constantly evolving, and it is not our place to declare what is the ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ use of this word. And with certain words the meaning changes depending on how it is used. For example, the word queer does not have a hateful connotation when it is used by members of the LGBTQ+ community to express identity. With everything, context matters. If a word is used in a way that connotes hate speech, we will not publish it in its entirety.