Our Pride badge has arrived
Young Lives vs Cancer Social Worker, Lyn, shares her thoughts on the importance of Pride and our new Pride badge for the young cancer patients she supports.
A rainbow Pride badge one year in the making
It’s been a year since I wrote about the importance of having a rainbow Pride badge to help create a safer space for conversations with the teenagers and young adults (TYAs) with cancer we support.
Since then, I’ve been so thrilled to see our Young Lives vs Cancer team create our very own Pride badge. Our designers worked on some ideas, our supporters on social media chose their favourite design and then our teams got to work on bringing them to life. And now it’s here!
The badge has been created especially for our frontline staff who work directly with the young people and families we support as a charity. So that’s our social workers, Home from Home staff and some volunteers.
By wearing a badge we want to show our support of LGBTQIA+ families and young people who are using our services. We hope that wearing the badge will open up conversations with LGBTQIA+ young people and families to talk to us about anything they need to while we support them, meaning that we can help them even better.
Writing about this topic a year ago was an important step for me then, and it’s just as important now.
Why Pride is so important for young cancer patients
The LGBTQIA+ community can be quite hidden in plain sight, especially less common orientations such as aromantic, asexual, pan, to name a few. Many will always fear discrimination because, let’s face it, it’s hard to stand out and be different. Especially when the fear is of possible rejection, disgust or even hate.
Some of these young patients will be lucky enough to have the support of friends or chosen family through their treatment. Others are less fortunate, and have to navigate the lows of chemotherapy, physical pain and emotional distress largely on their own. For this latter group, the medical team and Young Lives vs Cancer Social Workers become their support.
Having a Pride badge is just a small way we can say, “Hey, you can talk to me”. And if they can talk to us about how they would like to be addressed, they can start to open up about other things in their life that might be a challenge.
This is where some of the real work begins. As social workers and navigators, we have to be ready to talk about all kinds of topics, from random facts about animals as a conversation starter, all the way to how they are feeling in a body that sometimes doesn’t feel like theirs anymore.
The difference we can make
Throughout the last year, I’ve spoken to teenagers and young adults who have confided in me about their relationships and sexuality. They may ask for help, advice, or just need someone to listen.
A simple act of asking them what their pronouns are has opened up these vulnerable conversations. “No one has ever asked me this before,” is the most uttered phrase, followed by relief when they can share what their preferred pronouns are.
One young person felt comfortable to share their preferred name with me, which I was then able to pass on to the medical team. This ensures the hospital will always use this name going forward when addressing them in person and in letters.
Within this kind of safe space we try to build, many young people also feel more able to share information about their partner, if they have one. With this information we can include all the important people in a young person’s life in their support plan.
A future full of Pride
Visibility for LGBTQIA+ young people is so important when they’re already in a rare group amongst their peers from having cancer. Having a Pride badge gives young people the opportunity to see who in their medical network they can talk to.
I’m so happy that colleagues around the country can now request a Young Lives vs Cancer Pride badge to show their allyship. And for my social care colleagues who work remotely, I know they’re working hard to ensure that they are able to communicate their support in phone and email conversations with families and TYAs.
I’d like to think that choosing to wear this badge also means that we’re ready to actively challenge negative views or opinions about our LGBTQIA+ young people, families or colleagues. We don’t always need to have the right answers to challenge a view or opinion, but a good start for pause and reflection, and for further discussion to take place is simply saying, “That doesn’t sound right to me”.
It fills me with great pride to know that my colleagues are constantly exploring ways in which they can support our families and TYAs. Our Pride Promise and Diversity, Inclusion, Equity and Belonging strategy are a massive reflection of this commitment, not just for Pride month, but for every month of the year.
I’ve never felt more proud to work for a charity than I do working for Young Lives vs Cancer. Not only because of how all the departments work tirelessly together to support children and young people with cancer, but also because of the sense of community and support for each other, as well as a desire for growth and positive change for everyone.
If you’d like your own Pride rainbow badge, you can find them on our shop.
You can read more posts on LGBTQIA+ topics on our blog.
Posted on Wednesday 14 June 2023