We are very pleased to announce and introduce our very own youth panel! Providing key perspectives and insights into gendered approaches to safety, our panel of fresh faces were keen to present their concerns and points of view. Livestreamed on the 15th April, this panel event as an introduction to our panel, as they will in the future provide their own responses to each of the main panel events that we hold each month. Our panel included:
Rebecca Clark, 19 & a social media coordinator at One4Growth
Elijah Austin Murray, 20 & an admin and social media assistant at Mind Marvels
Olivia Brocker, 22 & a TV production assistant at Two Rivers Media
Host Laura Maginess, CEO of Glasglow Girls Club
As we continue to document a variety of perspectives, our youth panel will provide vital evidence that progress into keeping (especially marginalised) groups of people safe has been extremely limited in Scotland, and that the same concerns are being raised now that have been in the past few decades. They will also provide key considerations into how to create a safer future for the next generations, taking into account the role of social media, the vulnerability that comes with youth and inadequate safety education, and the best inclusive practices so that young people are safe but not restricted.
Feeling safe in society
Each panellist expressed their concerns about their personal safety and those of marginalised groups, especially in contexts such as going on a night out. For instance, Rebecca noted: ‘The thought of getting spiked, the thought of having to get a taxi home at 3 am yourself, things like that. You should be able to go on a night out and not feel scared of things like that. You should be able to enjoy your night. And it’s always the thing that’s in the back of your mind.’ (5:47-6:04)
Olivia agreed: ‘Being a young woman in the social media generation, now more than ever I think women’s safety is being spoken about, but only on social media. Very much in the real world, it’s still not very prominent. And like Rebecca said, it’s just the little things that have been ingrained in us for years and years that we shouldn’t have to think about, like covering our drinks in nightclubs because you think you’re going to get spiked or putting your keys in between your hands when you’re walking to your car at night because you think a man’s going to jump out or someone’s going to stop you from getting to your car, or maybe walking at night you’re texting your friends or sharing your location of where you are. […] It’s very much ingrained in our brains that that is just normal when it’s not.’ (8:04-50)
Laura, our host, noted how these concerns are almost the same as when she was their age, around fifteen years ago, including using taxis, concerns about spiking, and being attacked (especially at night).
Elijah, coming from an LGBTQIA+ perspective, felt similarly, but that the anxiety could be even more day-to-day: ‘It’s definitely difficult to feel safe. And as a queer person, I have quite a unique experience. Like with things going on right now, like the conversion therapy ban being discussed and then trans people being left out of that, that’s a huge issue. It’s cut quite deep for a lot of people and it’s worrying a lot of people. And all these big people coming out and being anti-trans or anti-gay and anti-LGBT in general, it’s a huge issue.’ (6:34-7:06)
They continued: ‘When I’m walking down the street, I feel like everyone’s watching me and I feel like I’m going to be attacked. Even though I haven’t experienced it personally, you hear so much about it and it really terrifies you. […] It definitely adds a lot of stress to day-to-day life. […] It’s so upsetting to wake up each day knowing that people just hate you for existing, and that you can’t even and you can’t even go out without worrying what people are going to say or do.’ (7:07-56)
Elijah’s perspective is a vital one in considering how we can make Scotland a safer place for everyone, as our campaign started with a focus on women’s safety, but we quickly realised that non-conforming genders and sexualities are major factors when considering the prevention of harassment and violence. As Elijah suggested, tackling the waves of renewed intolerance and hatred of trans people in the UK must be a priority if LGBTQIA+ groups are to feel safe.
Our panellists are excited for the upcoming panel events, not only to give their perspectives but to hear from others and learn more about the topics. As Elijah noted: ‘I think it’ll be a good opportunity to learn how other people feel about these things as well, and then learn about the things that I don’t know so much about, get some more knowledge, and then do more good essentially’ (13:16-30).
Olivia agreed with Elijah’s sentiments: ‘Every panel I’m really looking forward to, because I think each topic is so important and it has to be spoken about. So I’m really looking forward to learning about different topics that I’m not as familiar with and being allies to each group and leaning on each other for support I think is the most important thing.’ (13:36-53)
Honouring the title of the campaign, each panellists had their own what if to share:
Rebecca: ‘What if we didn’t constantly have to remember to keep our hand over our drink?’ (15:09-13)
Elijah: ‘What if queer people can exist without governments trying to debate their rights? What if we can just be allowed to exist without it being something people have to debate over, and without people telling us we’re making their lives unsafe?’ (15:43-16:04)
Olivia: ‘[What if we didn’t have to worry about] going out and having fun with your friends?’ (16:13-17)
Laura added: ‘What if society respected the same boundaries for each other? […] What if we all just respected each other’s boundaries and just knew how to be respectful to each other and treat each other in a manner which everyone deserves?’ (17:01-24)
Thank you again to each panellist for sharing their thoughts and experiences, and be on the lookout for more discussions from our youth panel as we progress through the campaign’s monthly panel events!