Gender and sexuality are slippery social constructs whose meanings vary across time and place. To capture some of the complexity of these relations, it is necessary to consider their mutable meanings in different parts of the world. This means understanding how gender and sexuality are regulated, produced, consumed, and embodied in young people’s lives transnationally. At a regulatory level, nation-states are found to disseminate different policies and approaches when it comes to young people’s gender and sexual learning. Alongside formal pedagogical approaches, young people’s peer groups and local friendship circles are critical to the production of sexual knowledge and gender practices. In what is a rapidly interconnected world, processes of cultural globalization evident in the spread of film, media, and music are providing new templates from which to transform more “traditional” gender and sexual relations. In consuming global images of gender and sexuality, young people are found to be active and discerning agents who experience and negotiate global processes at a local level, managing risk and carving out new opportunities as they see fit. Young people are seen to perform and embody gender and sexuality in a host of different ways. In doing so, they not only reveal the instability of sex and gender norms but also disclose the intense amount of “gender work” that goes into the performance of gender and sexuality.
Youth organizing is a form of civic engagement and activism. It offers a way for young people to identify and address social inequalities impacting their local and global communities. Youth are provided opportunities to learn about power structures and pathways to create meaningful change to support their communities. In formal institutional approaches, youth organizing is understood as part of positive youth development and a strategy to train young people about civic society and democracy. Youth organizing is also seen as a way for young people to seek support, empowerment, and resources and to develop their leadership capacity. Central to the field of youth organizing are questions on the role of youth within youth organizing. Researchers examine the leadership structure within youth organizations, the acquisition of resources for the organization, the process for identifying issues that the organization will address, and how youth experience their involvement. Youth organizing has been especially important for young marginalized people who may feel isolated and face harassment and discrimination. Researchers have extensively documented how youth organizing by people of color and lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people in North America have played a large role in fights for social justice. However, it was not until the mid-20th century that queer and trans youth started organizing in groups connected by their shared experiences and identities related to their sexuality and gender. The development of Gay–Straight Alliances (GSAs) in schools and debates about sexuality education in schools provide examples for exploring LGTBQ youth organizing in the 21st century.