Queer Youth Network
Year Founded1999, Manchester, England, United Kingdom
Area servedUnited Kingdom, Europe
FocusLGBT, queer, intersex and questioning youth, activism
MethodNetworking, Campaigning, Advocacy, TV and Radio

The Queer Youth Network (Q.Y.N.) is a national non-profit-making organisation that is run by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) young people and is based in the United Kingdom. It has an aim to represent the needs and views of younger LGBT people by campaigning for greater visibility and equal rights, as well as providing general support and information to those who are just coming out or who are experiencing homophobia.

Founding Edit

Founded in 1999 by David Joseph Henry and Charlotte Lester as a grass roots civil rights group, its formation was inspired by YouthSpeak and originally called the 'Queer Youth Alliance' until December 2006, and also ‘Queer Youth Overground’ for a short period between 1999 and 2001. In the beginning, the movement consisted of two member groups – Queer Youth Manchester (a local social support group based at the Hollywood Showbar in Manchester’s gay village) and Putney High School’s Gay Straight Alliance (the first of its kind in the UK). Henry and Lester got together to form a national alliance of LGBT Young People.

As many of the organisation’s original aims began to be achieved (eg abolition of Section 28 and equalising the age of consent for gay men), the group decided to focus on youth support, and representation to ensure homophobic legislation such as that brought about by the Conservative government of the 1980s should not be re-enacted.

The first president of the organisation was David Joseph Henry, who stepped down in August 2005 to make way for new president Greg Justice, with Katherine Parlour taking over as Vice President.

With the departure of Greg Justice and Katherine Parlour, the organisation re-grouped; after a period of no clear control in 2007, the organisation changed its name to the Queer Youth Network, and with David Henry, Michael Bundock and Damian Griffiths acting as the Network's leaders. The site and organisation has recently undergone a face-lift incorporating many features personal to individual members, core policy development and streamlined to ease confusion amongst some of the volunteer teams known as volunqueers.

The network is currently undergoing a major structural change, allowing for a greater say from young queer people across the country in how the organisation works. This democratic structure is due to be implemented in early 2009

Core work Edit

Instrumental in overturning Kent County Council’s ‘mini-Section 28’ policy after a long campaign, the Network is known for its vibrant, rowdy protests and youth-led campaigns. The organisation is one of the growing number of groups in Britain to have reservations about the Government’s new ‘Civil partnerships’ bill that aims to give equal rights to same sex couples. The Queer Youth Network is campaigning for the legalisation of marriage for same sex couples and as a result the organisation is one of the founding members of the Coalition for Marriage Equality (UK) together with OutRage! and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement. The organisation is a member of the Education for All coalition led by Stonewall set up to tackle homophobic bullying 3. Leader David Joseph Henry has been outspoken and controversial when speaking on the issue and has accused the British education system as being an “inherently flawed fossil directly responsible for rising rates of suicide in young men, record number of children on anti-depressant drugs, spiralling anti-social behaviour in particular ‘youth on youth’ crime including bullying activities”. The group's Scottish wing recently hit the headlines during a clash with Transport giant Stagecoach, that accused QYN of a 'Slur' as it mounted a Boycott on its bus services following revelations of institutional homophobia.2. QYN also runs the UK's only national transgender youth organisation to work with young people both under and over the age of 18, Trans Youth Network.

Following 12 months of inactivity, Queer Youth Network returned to campaigning in August 2007, with the appointment of Jack Holroyde as Campaigns Director.[1] Recent campaigns have included much work on transgender rights for young people, managed by Joanne McKillop, the "Trans Officer" for the network, and with the appointment of a new asexuality co-ordinator.[2][3]

National Queer Youth ConferenceEdit

File:QYA Tatchell.jpg

The National Queer Youth Conference is hosted annually by the Queer Youth Network, in 2003 it took place in London, 2004 saw it come to Birmingham, Manchester in 2005 and to Birmingham again in 2007. The event is the largest gathering of LGBT young people in Europe and is based upon similar events held in the United States.

'‘Overground’' is the name of the organisation’s national magazine which can be downloaded off their website. It is distributed nationally to some schools, youth groups, colleges, universities and through events.

Regional work Edit

'Local Reps' lead 7 regional QYN Groups throughout England. The organisation is also responsible for the formation of a national voice for LGBT young people in Wales: LGBT Youth Wales. In Scotland it works closely with LGBT Youth Scotland, and GLYNI (Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland) who are affiliated member groups of which there are now over 200.

Queer Youth London is one of the movement's most active groups. As a fully youth-led collective, it holds regular monthly meets all over Greater London and the South East.

Queer Youth Radio Edit

The Queer Youth Network launched Queer Youth Radio in the summer of 2006. Shows are put together by the group's members and youth groups across the UK who are invited to produce and star in their very own radio programmes. The station broadcasts a blend of new music and news as well as having its own Soap Opera called 'The Group'. Which follows the goings on at a gay youth group and tackles funny issues along with not so funny ones. The newest addition is Sandra, Queer Youth's very own drag queen who spins the decks with her uplifting tunes and sometimes coarse humour.

Queer Youth TV Edit

Originating in the United States, Queer Youth TV (UK) is a multimedia project that produces educational and informative films for a young LGBT audience.


QYN is often hailed for its radical and successful campaigning work through its youth and civil rights work, some feel that on their website's large online community, QYN has over-politicised itself to such an extent that more flaming gets done than support.[citation needed] This is disputed, as the organisation's membership is diverse, with many members being either very actively involved with core, face to face campaigning work and others accessing QYN for support or information. As with many large youth organisations, there is a cut-off age for members when they reach 26 years of age and participation for volunteers is limited to those under 30 years old, guaranteeing a high turn-over of volunteers as well as a constant source of new recruits.

References Edit

  1. Gay Teen Murdered in Liverpool: LGBT Youth Groups Demand Action 8 June 2008.
  2. To the Met Police's working group for Pride 2008 policing: by Joanne McKillop, Trans Officer, Queer Youth Network.
  3. Asexual Coordinator for the Queer Youth Network - Asexual Visibility and Education Network 17 July 2008.

External linksEdit

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