Over the past 30 years, Building Bridges Youth Programs have been committed to activating youth to eliminate bias and bigotry across Southern California. Through the years, CCEJ has organized leadership camps focused on guiding youth to face the stark realities of racism so they can build community, understanding, and unity among people of all racial identities. In the last 4 years, Building Bridges has begun expanding its work to include gender identity and sexual orientation to help young people make sense of an increasingly rich spectrum of identities. This past March, we launched our first-ever Gender Justice Camp.
Gender Justice is the movement to create a society where no one is dehumanized and discriminated against because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. While there has been dramatic progress towards the acceptance of LGBTQI communities and there is a growing movement to end violence and harassment against women, there is still much work left to do. Helping young people acknowledge these issues is the first step toward breaking down barriers and creating a space where people of all gender identities and sexual orientations are respected and celebrated.
At the Gender Justice Camp, students participated in various activities that challenged them to open up and share their stories with others. As they shared their stories, they created a community of caring needed to have the honest conversations in which they typically do not engage. By Sunday afternoon, students left Camp, proud and ready to continue advocating against the systems of Cisgenderism, Heterosexism, and Sexism in their schools, families, and communities.
As Building Bridges moves into its next 30 years, we are excited that our central mission to create a more just and inclusive community will continue evolving and expanding until there is justice for all. Join us by donating, volunteering, or connecting us to new schools and communities. Together we can build a more inclusive and united Southern California.