On 26th January 2024, the Medway Youth Council invited over 10 secondary schools across Medway to attend their annual youth conference at Mid-Kent College with the aim of gathering young people’s views and ideas on topics revolving around identity. This is to ensure that the youth council can appropriately delegate young people’s concerns and ideas to the Medway Council and implement future projects and campaigns based on the information gathered. 

During the conference, youth council members organised three workshops that focused on racism, homophobia, stereotypes, and discrimination. In these workshops, students engaged in tasks and discussions on how we could prevent these issues from becoming more prevalent in the community. 

Alongside the workshops was a marketplace. This was where a range of organisations came in, and young people were able to go talk to the ones that interested them. 

In the LGBTQ workshop, there was a discussion about the most significant causes of homophobia, and the majority of people responded with strong religious beliefs, misrepresentation in the media, and inaccurate information. Some students even argued that inadequate education in schools could play a vital role in the rise of anti-LGBTQ violence. 

In the stereotyping and discrimination workshop, students discussed the impact of associating certain race groups with specific stereotypes, recognising how these generalisations can perpetuate harmful biases and reinforce systemic inequalities. 

In the racism workshop, students were encouraged to provide examples of racist behaviour that has occurred in their local area, and the most common responses were the use of derogatory words and slurs, hate speech, microaggressions, and racial violence and harassment. With this, students came up with suggestions on how to combat racism. Some mentioned diversifying the national curriculum by teaching black, Asian, and minority ethnic histories. Spreading awareness of social injustices on all social media platforms and donating to charities and other organisations that provide support and opportunities to ethnic minorities. 

At the end of the conference, students completed a survey to evaluate their experience at the conference. The Youth Council received lots of positive feedback from schools, with some claiming that they would like to attend the next conference.