Youth for Positive Change talked to Riley Reed about her organization Pride in Running, which aims to increase LGBT+ youth participation in politics.
To begin with can you tell us what Pride in Running is and why you started it?
I’ve had the idea for Pride in Running for a while now. I remember when I was beginning to come to terms with my identity I noticed there were not a lot of people in government that represented the LGBTQ+ community, so I decided I wanted to start a group that encouraged the youth of our community to run for political positions.
We don’t have nearly enough of the LGBT community or young people in our government, and Pride In Running seeks to empower LGBTQ+ youth and teach them the skills to run for office, lobby and learn political skills to change the future, because, after all, young people will be the ones to inherit the earth.
What is one way that allies can help encourage and foster more LGBT youth participation in politics?
I would say opening the door to conversation and giving LGBT people the platform to discuss their community-specific issues would be a great start.
Hearing stories can help move people and make them more empathetic to a cause. I want people to be open to that. I want them to hear the stories of young LGBT people and listen, and help try to change the current state of affairs for our community. If LGBT youth feel heard, then that is one way to encourage them to veer into politics. Shutting down any community is not a way to promote their involvement, they’ll be disinterested in working with anyone. We have to be open to each other’s stories because with more perspective we have a greater chance for change and better representation.
LGBT youth are disproportionately affected from a number of issues, including prejudice and discrimination. Do you think that increased representation of LGBT youth in politics could help remedy these issues?
One-hundred percent. The increase of representation for any group in government increases not only diversity but opportunity. If a group can properly represent their interests, then change can be made to improve their lives. If we ever want to end the prejudice towards the LGBT community there needs to be increased representation so that we can achieve an equal standing and acceptance that other groups already have. A lot of issues surrounding our community get overlooked and erased, but we want to have our voices heard and let people know we’re here and deserve a say in policies directed towards us. We want the right to not only marry but to adopt, identify without discrimination and we shouldn’t be denied everyday life aspects, like getting a wedding cake. People's lives shouldn’t be against someone’s “values.”
Pride in Running is a relatively young organization; what are your plans for the future?
We’re definitely very fresh. Our goals are to achieve a strong coalition of like-minded people and become involved in upcoming elections.
We want to encourage youth to run for all sorts of positions, everthing from local school boards to Congress. When the COVID-19 situation improves we’ll get out there and really begin moving!
We want to help youth lobby for the causes they care about and gain skills to help change the future!
Finally, how can those interested get involved with your organization?
To anyone who wishes to get involved with our organization, you can follow our social media accounts, message us, or, alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to keep up with what we’re up to! We're always looking for new members and partners!
BIOGRAPHY: Riley Reed is an activist that attends school at DePaul University. She advocates for causes such as LGBTQ+ rights, gun violence prevention, women's rights, and climate change. In her time as an activist, she works on the teams of March For Our Lives, XR Youth and Women's March. Riley hopes to inspire young people and is majoring in political science to help change the future for her generation and the ones after her.