BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colorado --
Buckley Air Force Base Youth Programs, a military affiliated Boys and Girls Club of America, held a Lock-In event Jan. 12, 2018, as part of a Keystone Club national project.
The Keystone Club is a leadership group just for teens aged 14-18 years old. It affords teens an opportunity to gain valuable leadership and service experience. They conduct activities in three areas: academic success, career exploration and community service.
This year’s National Project topic is “United We Stand” which focuses on diversity, tolerance, and acceptance. The Buckley Keystone Club brainstormed and decided that the topic of acceptance of trangender service members was what they wanted the focus to be for their National Project.
“Diversity and acceptance is what Buckley Youth Programs is all about,” said Kaureen Whittaker, Buckley AFB Youth Programs chief. “It is important we bring our youth, especially those who have different beliefs and backgrounds, together in one place to address pressing topics in a fun, yet educational way.”
Staff Sgt. Sabrina Bruce, 460th Space Communications Squadron client systems supervisor, who is currently serving in the military here as a transgender service member was invited to attend the teen only led dialogue about transgender service members.
"I was happy to answer questions and clear up any misconceptions people might have while being a voice for the community," said Bruce. "When I was growing up I didn't have any transgender role models to show me that I wasn't alone in this struggle, so one of my personal goals is to get out there and be that role model for other transgender people."
Also during the event, the younger youth participated in a separate activity that focused on the overall topic of diversity and helped raise their diversity awareness.
“Tolerance does not require you to accept the beliefs and ideas of others. Instead, it asks you to respect their right to individual opinions, religions and practices,” said Whittaker. “The best way to increase tolerance is to improve understanding of others. Education and discussion can give you a broader perspective of other beliefs and practices, while lessening negative feelings about other groups.”
During the seminar, Bruce shared the story of her life as a transgender woman and the teens were provided the opportunity to ask various questions and gain critical knowledge about language, respect, and acceptance.
The seminar lasted approximately an hour and included an activity titled “Across the Line”, which focused on privilege. This activity allowed the youth to be open about the privilege and power they may or may not possess based upon their race, sexual orientation, identified gender, age and other various life circumstances.