Mapping the Way to Progress

YES photo

QMAP (Queer Mentoring Advocacy Program), a recent start-up program directed by Diana Diyarza and Amanda Near, serves as a mentoring and advocacy service for LGBTQA+ youth in the local community. The group worked with Mattole Charter School and McKinleyville High School in the fall semester of 2015. This year QMAP is continuing their work at McKinleyville High School. Every week a handful of volunteers go to the high school during the lunch hour to meet with students and facilitate discussions pertaining to the queer community, as well as talk about the environment on campus.

This semester QMAP is focusing on providing outlets for its participants in the form of events and online communities. Tickets to see Laura Jane Grace, a well-known transgender musician of the punk band Against ME!, were generously donated by Center Arts and YES House directors. QMAP also provides online mentoring via websites like Tumblr and Facebook, where students can share and compare experiences. QMAP says the peer support they provide, both online and in person, is a large part of their cause, as it allows for students to share their perspectives in a safe and supportive space.

QMAP has been brainstorming trainings which will be available to educators/people in positions of power to help them better support their students by learning about the experiences of LGBTQA+ youth at their schools. In these workshops students will have the opportunity to give first hand accounts of their experiences both on campus and in the local community. QMAP also plans on providing a tour to these high school students in the near future to showcase queer communities and resources on campus. QMAP says they are proud of the progress their group has made in little under a year as an official program. In the near future, their dedicated volunteers strive to build additional connections with numerous schools throughout northern Humboldt to support a broader base of LGBTQA+ youth.