NativeLove: What We Want Adults to Know

By Noeli Pacheco, Victoria Quintana, Isaiah Tenorio and Anonymous Robert F. Kennedy Charter Middle School, Alphabet Soup Club, Albuquerque, NM and Jovita Belgrade, Ohkay Owingeh, Isleta Pueblo, and the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Nation, NIWRC

NativeLove connected with an LGBTQ2S+ club called the Alphabet Soup Club at Robert F. Kennedy Charter Middle School in Albuquerque, NM. We asked the students to write about what they would like adults to know about consent, boundaries, and healthy communication. We are proud to elevate their responses:

Recognizing the importance of proper pronoun use helps us to identify with who we are on the inside. Someone’s correct pronouns should be used right away and should not be seen as corruption in the human mind. Respecting pronouns is an easy way to make youth feel happy and safe. It is as easy as learning to use the singular “they/them.”

Other ways to help youth feel safe and less anxious are healthy boundaries and communication with us. For example, understanding that physical touch is not the only way to show affection, even if you have a close relationship with someone. Boundaries can be set by anyone at any age and should be respected especially if they come from a young person.

Using phrases such as “Can we talk?” or “I have been feeling left out,” is an easy way to start a conversation. When communicating with youth, do not doubt what is being said and check in before having heavy talks. Healthy communication and boundaries with youth allow us to know where we can also improve.

NativeLove appreciates the opportunity to uplift youth voices around support for the LGBTQ2S+ community. Young people deserve to have their pronouns, boundaries, and voices respected and honored. NativeLove centers Native and LGBTQ2S+ youth advocacy in messaging like this article from Alphabet Soup. We strive to build strategic relationships with LGBTQ2S+ programs to support their work that creates safe and healthy communities for Native youth across Turtle Island. Two-Spirit people have always existed in Indigenous communities and were accepted and integrated into our nations prior to colonization. We assert that LGBTQ2S+ people are essential to the health and wellness of our shared future.

We honor them first by ensuring they are safe, loved, and supported. Some ways you can care for Two-Spirit youth in your community is by seeing them for who they are, listening to them, honoring their pronouns, respecting their boundaries, affirming them, and offering support to help them thrive.

"Group photo of 4 Native youth holding up NativeLove t-shirts"
Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month Zine Challenge Participants with Nativelove prize packs. / Photo courtesy of advisor teacher Señora Mahalia Aponte.