September 2023

A Brave Space for All

By Sion Erkiletian, Juniper, and Daphne

The Queer, Trans & Allied Student Summit of the Central Coast has a special place in my heart because of how much fun I had when I attended last year. It was a very powerful experience, and I made lifelong friends that will forever be in my heart.

When I first got to the summit, I was immediately given a warm welcome by friendly attendees, kind volunteers, and I realized I wasn’t alone. I observed delighted youth from different counties participating in activities, and it felt impactful to be in a space so unapologetically queer.

My name is Sion Erkiletian, and I am a part of the Student Summit Planning Committee.

There was a wide diversity of workshops that taught valuable lessons not only about relevant topics, but also about myself. I attended workshops like the Women and Feminism and the STI prevention workshop, which taught me how to set boundaries and be myself to the fullest extent. 
I also attended the trans identity caucus, where we had inspiring and vulnerable discussions about what it meant to be trans and how our identity affects our daily life. The conversations held there were necessary and cathartic for many of us, and gave me a chance for my voice to be heard and for my identity to be seen.

I know I’m not the only one who had an unforgettable experience, as Juniper, another Student Planning Committee member, as well as our incredible graphic designer, found that “The Summit was one of the first times I felt recognized for my interests, identities, and connections to the queer community. It provided me with an outlet to share my knowledge with [like-minded] peers and feel acknowledged, and it continues to do so.” 

Daphne, another member of our Student Planning Committee, recalls attending their first summit as a junior. “I remember hearing my friends talk about it all through middle school but never being able to attend, and then after COVID, it really took a while for me to get comfortable again, especially in queer spaces.

I attended a great workshop on the art of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and had a really fascinating conversation with a member of that year’s Planning Committee, which is what motivated me to join it this year: so that I could recreate that experience for other kids.” 

The Summit is open to all students grades 6-12 from Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties at Watsonville High School, Sept. 30, from 9:30am-2pm.
There is complimentary breakfast and lunch, and students receive free goodie bags that have fidgets, stickers, and much more! The event is put on by the Safe Schools Project of Santa Cruz County.

You can learn more and register for the Summit at

Writers: Daphne is a senior at Harbor High and a student leader with ASB, Queer-Straight Alliance, and the Project LIT book club. Juniper (he/they) is a transgender homeschool student who is extremely passionate about LGBTQIA+ and social justice issues. Sion is a queer, cat-loving junior who has a burning passion for Social Justice and LGBTQIA+ rights, and enjoys spending time with loved ones.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *