• Students Speak Youth Summit 2022

  • Students Speak Youth Summit 2022

  • Students Speak Youth Summit 2022

Students Speak Youth Summit 2022

In April 2022, approximately 40 students participated in a day-long Youth Summit at Harvard Law School, at which they designed and led workshops for their peers that imparted important skills and understanding related to youth activism for educational justice.

Workshop topics included understanding systemic racism, responding to microaggressions, using youth participant action research, and improving literacy through hip hop.

Keynote Speaker: Will Larkins

Will Larkins

Keynote Speaker. President Queer Student Unions, Winter Park High School, Orlando, Florida

Will Larkins is a 17-year-old student leader, organizer, and activist at Winter Park High School in Florida. They are the Co-founder and President of the school’s Queer Student Union, an organization created to protect and empower LGBTQIA+ students who face discrimination, hatred, and bullying at school. Will organized and lead the “Say Gay Anyway” walkout at Winter Park High School where over 500 students participated, making national headlines. In February, they testified against the “Don’t Say Gay or be LGBTQIA+” bill in the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee and worked alongside groups such as the Florida Student Power Network and the Coalition for Transgender Liberation to write amendments to anti-diversity legislation, for which they then presented to Florida Senators. Will was recently awarded the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s Catherine Fahringer Student Activist Award after having their essay about growing up queer published digitally and in print in The New York Times.

Watch the full video of Will’s Keynote Address

Out Now Discussion of Microaggression

Microaggression is a comment or action that negatively targets a marginalized person or group.

Watch a Video Excerpt of the Presentation

So a person of color enters an elevator with a white woman in it. The woman clutches her purse tighter. Is this a microaggression?

Your American white friend is chatting with an immigrant from Jamaica. Your friend states they speak good English for someone who wasn’t born here. Is this a microaggression?

Next one, two people are introduced. One says I’m black and the other says I don’t see skin colors. Is this a microaggression?

Okay, next, an Asian American person is asked where are they from? Is this a microaggression?

A man says to a waitress, you’d be prettier if you smiled. Is this a microaggression?

School a poem by Maria

Chelsea REACH Program

School is the place where learning comes to life,
the place where stress comes to life
the place where friends come to life,
like a devil,
like a double edged sword piercing to every student
school is without a doubt,
one of the hardest things anyone can go through.
And while some people across the pond dream,
to go to school, dream to learn like us,
some of us don’t want to be here.
Most of us don’t want to go to school. And that’s the problem.

You know what I think?
I think the stress that’s contained in the building
that’s supposed to be one of the most exciting part of our lives,
one of the most exciting and inspiring part of our life is insane,
to say the least, school should be a place with open arms,
a place that’s open to all people with different cultures and different religions.

It should be a place where things like prayer rooms are made,
so that some students can practice their religious activities.
And it should be filled with people
who are willing to be there to help young minds blossom.

To all the teachers here, I have a question,
What’s the best part of your job?
I may not be a teacher. But if I was one,
I’d say the best thing would be to watch that tiny flower bloom
to watch a stem become beautiful in green filled with life,
to watch the roots dig deep,
and to watch that tiny flower bloom and become beautiful.
Now in order to make that happen,
I think that students should be able to have time
to connect to themselves mentally,
so they can be able to go to school
and have confidence and have control over their lives.

More from the Youth Summit

An excerpt from the Keynote address by WIll Larkins

Will Larkins talks about Florida’s Don’t Say Gay bill

Students Speak Youth Summit 2023

On April 18, 2023, 70 students from across the Commonwealth convened at Harvard Law School for the 2nd annual Students Speak Youth Summit, a full day of activities planned and led by youth. The action-packed agenda was focused on developing advocacy skills. he Summit featured keynote addresses aimed at inspiring youth-led advocacy and interactive workshops designed to explore a full range of tools for advocacy and self-discovery.

The second annual Youth Summit was held at Harvard Law School in April 2023. Learn More…