BabyBiCon+18: Young & Bi

When I helped look after bi stalls at local Pride events we had many young people come up for a sticker or a badge or a postcard (the anime style ones went down well). I’d guess many were 13-16 years old. I didn’t feel we had a whole lot more to offer them; nothing really focused on their lives or issues.

Surveys reported in BCN have shown that about half of younger people now don’t identify as gay or straight. I don’t know a lot of bi young people and I’m not in that age group any more; They may all be fine and happy; They might be in touch with other like minded people or not wanting to group together around sexuality. I don’t know that though and I’m concerned that as bi community we could and should be concerned with bisexuality at any age.

With that in mind, I offered a BiCon workshop session to think about what resources or events we might make or support for younger bisexuals or how we might facilitate them coming up with their own. This was open to people of any age.

Given a slot on Sunday morning, the session was not well attended. However we had a good chat about initiatives in schools such as Elly Barnes’ “Educate and Celebrate” (see www.educateandcelebrate.org), a QCollege event one of us attended in London at 16 (telling parents it was a creative writing event) and what we knew of BabyBiCon, “A weekend of workshops, games and partying for bisexuals under 26,” that happened back in 1998. That was a generation ago.

An old GALOP (London’s Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Anti-Violence and Police Monitoring Charity) review of 2001-2002 said:

“Galop’s Youth Project finally came to an end in 2001 although the lessons learnt continue to inform our work. The project arose out of our 1998 needs assessment “Telling it like it is” and has had a measurable impact on the services Galop provides to young people.

The Youth Project’s final event was QCollege run in partnership with Birkbeck College, PACE, the Metro Centre and the North London Line. It was a pioneering 4-day college for young lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgender people encompassing workshops, lectures, films, readings and discussions. The event was extremely successful with over 70 young people attending the “thought provoking” event and over 100 representatives of organisations attending its launch.

Galop is delighted to have secured funding from Help a London Child towards running QCollege again in 2002.”

In our workshop between us we knew social workers, teachers & school staff, youth workers and youth event planners and organisers. We know a few younger bi / pan / non-labelling people and we have been younger bi people ourselves. We think we know people who could advise or arrange protected spaces for young people. I’ve spoken at a number of council events and they have sections working with young people and they own venues.

We also knew about some excellent sex and relationship advice services and trainers such as Scarlet Teen, Justin Hancock’s Bish Training and some people we know through bisexual community who do such things as well as student-run initiatives.

We were aware that our interests, needs and knowledge were likely to be different from what young people might come up with themselves. However, we also thought community elders, skilled facilitators and people who who run excellent BiCon sessions on consent, saying and hearing “no”, flirting, safer sex, self care and various other topics could be valuable to younger people if appropriately offered and presented.

As older people with more experience, resources and money we might support logistics, advertising, writing, safeguarding, finding facilitators, supporting young people to take up roles to organise themselves or express themselves and discussions with parents, carers, schools, school governors or the press. I expect we would learn much from younger people too: from their knowledge, experiences and good questions.

Is anyone else interested enough to want to take some ideas forward for younger bisexuals?