Queer Youth Network
"QYN exists as an autonomous, youth-focused movement that aims to provide a progressive, innovative, infrastructure at grass-roots level to improve the general well-being for all young people who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, Transsexual, Intersex, Questioning, Curious, Asexual, Pansexual or “Queer” and/or who are socially marginalised as a result of their identity as well as those who advocate on their behalf." - Queer Youth Network Constitution (Updated 2005)
Their aim is to represent the needs and views of LGBT Young People through campaigning for greater visibility and equal rights, as well as providing general support and information to those who are just "coming out" or who are suffering the effects of homophobia.
Founded in 1999 by David Joseph Henry and C N Lester as a grass-roots civil rights group, its formation was inspired by YouthSpeak. it was called the "Queer Youth Alliance" until December 2006, and "Queer Youth Overground" for a short period between 1999 and 2001. In the beginning the movement consisted of two member groups, Queer Youth Manchester (a local social support group based at the Hollywood Showbar in Manchester's gay village and Putney High School's Gay Straight Alliance (the first of its kind in the UK). Henry and Lester got together to form a national alliance of LGBT Young People.
As many of the organisation’s original aims began to be achieved (eg abolition of Section 28 and lowering of the age of consent for young gay men), the group decided to focus on youth support and representation to ensure homophobic legislation such as that brought about by the Conservative government of the 1980s is not repeated.
With the departure of Greg Justice and Katherine Parlour, the organisation re-grouped, after a period of no clear control in 2007 the organisation changed its name to the Queer Youth Network, and with David Henry back at the helm, the organisation looks to be going from strength to strength.
Instrumental in overturning Kent County Council's "mini-Section 28" policy after a long campaign, the alliance is known for its vibrant, rowdy protests and youth-led campaigns. The organisation is one of the growing number of groups in Britain to have reservations about the Government's Civil Partnership Act that granted equal rights to same sex couples. The Queer Youth Network is campaigning for the legalisation of marriage for same sex couples and as a result the organisation is one of the founding members of the Coalition for Marriage Equality (UK) together with OutRage! and the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement.
The National Queer Youth Conference is hosted annually by the Queer Youth Network. In 2003 it took place in London, 2004 in Birmingham, 2005 in Manchester 2007 in Birmingham. The event is the largest gathering of LGBT Young People in Europe and is based upon similar events held in the United States.
Overground is the organisation's national magazine which can be downloaded off their website. It is distributed nationally to schools, youth groups, colleges, universities and through events.
"Local Reps" lead 11 regional QYN Groups throughout the UK. The organisation is also responsible for the formation of a national voice for LGBT young people in Wales: LGBT Youth Wales. It works closely with LGBT Youth Scotland, and GLYNI (Gay and Lesbian Youth Northern Ireland) who are affiliated member groups of which there are now over 200.