Run for and by young people. the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Youth & Student Organization (IGLYO) is a pan European network whose vision is "a world where we, young people in all our diversity, are able to express and define our own sexual orientations, gender identities, gender expressions, sex characteristics and bodily diversity without discrimination, violence or hatred." Nextgen talked to Euan Platt, Executive Coordinator, to see how they seek to materialize that vision. Connect with the Brussels-based organization on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Share with us the story behind IGLYO and who are your members and constituents today?
IGLYO was established in 1984 by a group of LGBT youth activists, who held their first international event in Amsterdam. In 2006 the organization became a registered international NGO in Belgium and a Secretariat was created in Brussels. Today IGLYO has over 90 member organizations in 40 Council of Europe countries. IGLYO’s Executive Board is elected by the membership and is made up of six young people (18–30 years) with different nationalities and genders. The Board works closely with the Secretariat, which employs five full time staff members, to deliver the annual work plan.
As a youth development organization, IGLYO builds the confidence, skills and experience of LGBTQI young people to become leaders within the LGBTQI and human rights sectors. Through cross-cultural exchange and peer learning, IGLYO also creates a powerful collective of youth activists across Europe who can share strategies and visions, and foster values of international solidarity. Finally, IGLYO ensures the voices and experiences of LGBTQI young people are present and heard by decision-makers at European and international levels. IGLYO achieves these outcomes through international trainings and events, targeted capacity building programs, inter-cultural exchanges and peer learning, online tools and resources, and digital story-telling and campaigning.
How is IGLYO different from other youth organizations that also focus on LGBTQI issues? What kind of youth participation do you have at your organization?
IGLYO is the oldest and largest international LGBTQI youth network. Built on the values of youth empowerment and participation, IGLYO provides opportunities for young people from different countries and contexts to meet one another, share personal experiences and develop shared solutions to the issues they face. Using non-formal education methods, IGLYO encourages participants to reflect and learn from their existing knowledge and experience. IGLYO also fosters youth leadership through a range of roles, from the Executive Board to event planning teams to thematic task forces.
Your mission is to “ensure representation” of LGBTQI youth issues. What kind of representation are you striving for and how do you work to accomplish this objective?
IGLYO strives to increase the visibility, and highlight the diversity of, LGBTQI young people by mentoring and supporting individuals to share their personal experiences to a wide range of audiences. This is achieved by training young people to speak at events, participate in panel discussions, and to present their experiences on film and through digital story telling. IGLYO regularly participates in both youth and LGBTQI European networks and events. To ensure that young people and youth issues are represented within the wider LGBTQI movement and that LGBTQI issues are mainstreamed within the youth networks. The organisation is a member of UNESCO, ILGA World, Transgender Europe, the European Youth Forum, and has an elected position on the Council of Europe Advisory Council on Youth.
Where do you get your support from, financially and others?
IGLYO is funded by the European Commission, the European Youth Foundation and the Dutch Ministry for Education, Culture and Science. IGLYO also receives income through annual membership fees.
How far has the world come, particularly companies and institutions, when it comes to publicly supporting LGBTQI issues both in Europe and worldwide?
There is strong and established support from many European and international institutions on LGBTQI rights- the European Union, the Council of Europe, the Fundamental Rights Agency, and UNESCO to name a few. The difficulty is ensuring that the progress made at these levels is felt on the ground by LGBTQI young people themselves. This involves continued work with national and local governments in member states to help translate policy and legislation into real change in everyday life. By building the skills of youth activists and our member organisations, IGLYO aims to facilitate change from the regional to the local level.
In your observation, what are the most pressing challenges right now facing young LGBTQI people? What can young people do to help each other?
Our membership continues to inform us that combating homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools is their number one priority. For quality learning to happen, schools need to be safe and inclusive of all, promoting the values of diversity and respect. We see many excellent initiatives coming from our members to tackle this problem, such as the establishment of gay/straight alliances, LGBT school charter programs, and workshops on norm-criticism. The strongest initiatives always involve the students themselves in designing and delivering the project. IGLYO will also continue its work on this issue by launching the first ever European LGBTQI Inclusive Education Index and Country File Report later in 2017. This ambitious project will provide an overview of education laws and policies, teacher training programs, curricula content bullying data monitoring and links with LGBT NGOs in every Council of Europe country to reveal if they are LGBTQI inclusive.