FINDING A BETTER WAY
Conversations with Gender & Sexual Minority Youth
“We’re going to look at creating relational places of care that protect a highly vulnerable population and represent our deep desire to love without harm. We won’t hand you a script, but we’ll give you some postures and practices that will make space for the Holy Spirit to form us all into the likeness of Christ in his own time and his own way.”
If you would like to look further into the content of this training video the full script with references to the Scripture and research used is available for you to download here:
The video you are about to watch might not answer all your questions and it will probably not get everything right. The idea was birthed by a group of people who began to humbly share their deep desire to love a highly vulnerable population without harm. This group, made up of the leaders of the major youth organizations of Canada, has been meeting and praying and supporting each other in an unprecedented way over the past few years. Together, they have sought a tool to train their staff and volunteers to have compassionate, faith-filled conversations with gender and sexual minority youth.
Who's it about
Over the next hour, you will be introduced to a research-based framework for building relationships that open up the way for flourishing in the lives of all youth and young adults. From within this context, we will explore what compassionate, faith-filled conversations with LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, might look like as we invite them toward spiritual flourishing.
Who's it for
The content is meant to set a relational foundation for those walking alongside gender and sexual minority youth and young adults. If compared to medical care, this video will provide guidance for the paramedics - those who are holding back further harm through immediate care. This is where many youth workers live everyday.
Why was it made
Our hope is that this video will provide guidance in walking with any youth. It will also provide more clarity around the journey with LGBTQ+ youth in response to the requirements of Bill C-4 in particular. However, the content is not based on a governmental mandate. It has been compiled from a mixture of research, scripture, and lived experience of youth workers just like you. You will not find a theology of sexuality here, but you will find an exploration of how a theology of compassion plus faith in the work of the Spirit might look in our ministry with gender and sexual minorities.
The video alone is 1 hour in length. With pauses to use the accompanying Conversation Guide, the full experience can be completed in no more than 2 hours if each discussion time is limited to 8-10 minutes. At the very least, simply pausing at the end of each section and asking the viewers for 1 thing that seemed valuable would assist in processing the content.
To prepare yourself for showing the video you may want to consider preparing the following:
A copy of the discussion guide - Be sure to look through the questions in advance and adjust them to your specific context.
Printed handouts - These will highlight key points from the video and offer a space for notes.
A Timekeeper - To keep the training time within 2 hours, have someone holding the discussion blocks to 8 minutes per section.
Food! - Snacks or pizza are never a bad idea.
What are people saying?
"I appreciated the focus on creating a culture of empathy, respect, and listening, how to be an active listener and create a safe space."
"This video was a helpful reminder and, more so, good language to use when speaking about the youth we work with."
"The questions in the guide were great at launching us into further discussion."
"There is such a need for this conversation. I loved the posture of invitation that was taken by the presenter and by the content."
"I liked the humility and emphasis on listening and the importance of seeing each youth as made in the image of God."
Discussion Guide & Handout
Over the past 20 years, Alison has been stretched and grown by diverse people and places including street kids, student leaders, school teachers, newcomers to Canada, LGBTQ-identifying youth, indigenous youth and their leaders, various faith-based groups like the Muslim community and church youth groups. Her experience growing up as a visible minority in Hamilton Ontario is what shaped her to listen to the stories of people and their challenges.
Alison developed and taught a character development curriculum in Jr. and Sr. High Schools in Alberta which has led to speaking at school assemblies and school board training events in person and online across Canada. She also runs a non-profit organization called Young Woman of Power (YWOP) dedicated to empowering women to grow in confidence to make their dreams a reality. YWOP provides resources for conferences, workshops, and mentorship programs for those working with teen girls. Alison has written a curriculum used in schools and agencies throughout Alberta called PivotFWD which focuses on increasing girls’ confidence. For 10 years she has been delivering this program with Calgary’s judicial system with first-time offenders.
It's through her time working with young women in out of the faith community that Alison first began to walk with students identifying as LGBTQ+. Alison has been honoured to support families from the faith communities who have lacked the knowledge and understanding to love God and their LGBTQ+ child and continues to be a learner in this area.
“Hearing about this project was an answer to prayer and I was excited to have a voice in it. There is still so much to learn when it comes to loving God and loving people the way He would want us to. This project is a step in the right direction for the church and God’s people. I pray that you catch His heart and our hearts as you watch this video.”
May they know that we are His disciples by how we love one another. John 13:35
Bring Alison in to speak at your next youth or school event. She can be reached at email@example.com and check out the first season of the Tall, Gorgeous Black Girl podcast geared for youth and young adults.
For the past 35 years, Iona Snair has been involved in the lives of vulnerable young people and the adults who care about them. Iona and her husband Rob founded and run Lifeteams School of Youth Outreach with Vancouver Youth Unlimited/YFC. Iona is a speaker and trainer, preparing volunteers, parents and professionals to enter into the difficult issues young people face. She holds a Master degree from Regent College in Vancouver and lives with her family in Abbotsford, B.C.
Jen Hubbard has been invested in the lives of young people for over twenty years. That work has evolved to include training and equipping youth ministry staff and volunteers, helping those who care for teens have tangible skills to invest well. Jen is an educator, coach, and facilitator, helping create training resources through Lifeteams School of Youth Outreach. She holds a Master's degree from Trinity Western University and lives in Surrey, BC, with her family.
Lifeteams Resources creates practical youth work tools from a faith-based perspective. With decades of youth experience in a wide variety of settings, our staff seek to equip youth workers, volunteers and parents to step into real issues with courageous compassion. You can find more free and accessible resources at www.lifeteams.ca/resources. Lifeteams is a program of Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited, a part of Youth for Christ Canada.