Trevor Celebrates the Life-Affirming Work of Graduating YAC Members

Dozens of inspiring and heroic young people have served on the Trevor Youth Advisory Council (YAC), helping to increase Trevor visibility, advocate for pressing issues facing LGBTQ youth, and show young people with diverse identities that they’re not alone.

As we welcome a group of new YAC members this season, we also say “thank you” to seven graduating members who have spent the last two years making a difference. “The YAC’s graduating members have inspired me because they represent my hopes and dreams for all LGBTQ youth,” said The Trevor Project’s Outreach Coordinator, Mike Jorgensen, who organizes the group. “I look forward to the day when all young people will be able to thrive and achieve great things while celebrating their diverse identities and backgrounds.”

Here are a few of their most notable accomplishments, and reflections:

Travis Amiel (Westchester, NY) was inspired by our founding film, TREVOR, and produced a play about a contemporary gay teen. Travis’ story took place in a world where The Trevor Project exists – and because of that, the teen was able to receive necessary life-saving resources. He reflected, saying, “The YAC has introduced me to people that are devoted to Trevor’s cause in the most inspiring ways. It’s been humbling and exciting to be part of a team filled with such passion, excitement, and genius.”

Madelyn Gelpi (Slidell, LA), a 2014 YAC Co-Chair, helped foster safer and more loving places for LGBTQ youth in Louisiana. Madelyn gained support and advocacy from community leaders and political representatives by creating an inspiring coming out video. Madelyn said, “My future goals in life have everything to do with Trevor’s mission. Everything I’ve done in the YAC has better prepared me for this goal and has also solidified that this is the kind of work I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Luke Knudsen (Dallas, TX) was one of the 2014 YAC Co-Chairs, and promoted advocacy and resources for LGBTQ youth in often-overlooked rural areas. As a leader in the transgender community, Luke strives to create a world in which all gender identities are validated and celebrated. He said, “The YAC provides an unmatched ability to amplify Trevor’s reach and ability to be effective in its services for youth. We are, in essence, the youth Trevor serves, so the YAC is able to help ensure Trevor is effectively achieving its mission.”

Hannah Kopach (Elmhurst, IL) paired with local artist Steve Musgrave in her two-night “Art with Trevor” event to show LGBTQ youth the importance of self-care and creative expressions. For attendees, it was an empowering and healing experience. She said, “It has been a life-changing experience to see how important Trevor’s work is. Even as an ally, I still have the power to help save LGBTQ lives.”

MaKayla Reed (Belfast, ME) was the keynote speaker at Pride Youth Gathering in Maine, where they educated the local community about Trevor’s life-saving resources. MaKayla has the following message to struggling LGBTQ youth: “While things don’t always get better overnight, there will always be someone to talk to in order to get you through. The Trevor Project is here. You are loved, valued, and appreciated.”

Adam White (Ashburn, VA) spread awareness of the importance of faith-inclusivity and family support for LGBTQ youth within the Latter-day Saint community. In 2013, Adam was also presented with the Trevor Youth Innovator Award for his life-affirming work. As a future elementary school teacher, Adam hopes to further his LGBTQ activism within educational systems to provide safe and supportive environments for students of all identities. Check out Adam’s inspiring words to LGBTQ youth in his “It Gets Better at Brigham Young University” and “Just be There” videos.

Emma Zyriek (Bel Air, MD) helped foster a safe and supportive campus environment at Greenville, South Carolina’s Furman University by highlighting RuPaul Drag Race: Season One winner Bebe Zahara’s story of self-exploration and love. Emma hopes to continue her passion with LGBTQ populations, while spreading a beautiful message of positivity and hope.

The Trevor Project celebrates the accomplishments of these seven graduating members and wishes them all the best in their future endeavors. We know that our YAC graduates will go on to do incredible things and continue to advocate for the well-being of LGBTQ youth nationwide!

For more information and important updates (such as the approaching announcement of our newest selected YAC members!), visit our YAC page here.


You are Loved

By: Madelyn Gelpi

“You are loved, you are beautiful, you are not alone.” –These words have echoed through the darkness of my most difficult moments.  In them, I have found solace, hope, courage, and direction. These ideas, while seemingly simple, are some of the most profound pieces of wisdom and comfort we can offer others (and ourselves) throughout our lives.

As an LGBTQ person growing up in Louisiana, I struggled to love myself, let alone accept myself. Because of the lack of acceptance and support in my community, I saw my sexual orientation and gender identity as irreversible flaws that made me unlovable, diseased, and immoral. Even now I find it difficult to articulate the depth of the depression I faced during this period of my life.

When I found accepting friends, family, and communities like The Trevor Project, I came to discover that when I looked inside of myself, expecting to find something wrong, I actually found a person who is incredibly beautiful and unique. I was able to find that “thing,” whether it was my sexual orientation, gender identity, or something else, that made me special, absolutely fabulous, and intricately human.

Through the YAC, I’ve met other LGBTQ people across the country who have overcome similar struggles to accept and love themselves, and now work to raise awareness and educate communities across the country about the issues LGBTQ youth face everyday.   By coming to know so many LGBTQ people who used their own difficult experiences to help others, I discovered that the most powerful force in combating homophobia, transphobia, and discrimination as a whole is echoing, voicing, and reinforcing the feeling that can move the world: love.

The Trevor Project YAC helped me understand that one of the best ways to put this into action was to work towards the betterment of mental health. The knowledge and perspective I gained on the Trevor Project YAC has lead me to my career as a Mental Health Counselor in San Francisco, and will continue to guide me as I attend graduate school next year to obtain a dual masters degree in Public Policy and Social Welfare at UCLA.

The guiding principles I’ve learned as a Trevor Project YAC member are now the values I try to instill in others I encounter everyday, in my job, in my friendships, in my family, in every person I meet: You are loved. You are beautiful. And, you are most certainly not alone. Shine on, friends, in whatever way you shine. I can see your light.

Click for the 2015 Trevor Youth Advisory Council Application


Teen Nick Award-Winner Grants $5,000 to Trevor

Zachary Mallory, an 18-year-old gay teen from Kansas City, just gave $5,000 to The Trevor Project after being honored as a TeenNick HALO Effect’s October 2014 award recipient. We are so touched and grateful for this unexpected gift, and are inspired by Zachary’s commitment to helping LGBTQ youth in crisis.

 

“I gave my support to The Trevor Project because they have helped me and thousands of others create a better life for ourselves,” said Zachary. “With Trevor’s trained counselors and the amazing volunteer opportunities, it’s an endless journey in making a better and safer, more inclusive community. When I heard from Nickelodeon about the grant, my immediate thought, without hesitation, was The Trevor Project.”

The HALO Effect – which stands for Help And Lead Others – is a Nickelodeon initiative that works to inspire young people to create meaningful change in their communities. Zachary was selected because of his brave work as an LGBT-rights advocate and peer mentor.

In his hometown, Zachary created a welcoming place for LGBTQ youth by founding a Gay-Straight Alliance, he also participated in GLSEN’s rally in Washington D.C. to promote safer schools. As a Youth Outreach Intern for PerformOUTKC, the only LGBTQIA performing arts group in Kansas City, he continues his work to help support the youth in his community.

Thank you again, Zachary! We are so proud to have your support!

To make a donation to The Trevor Project, visit Trvr.org/Donate.


TrevorLIVE: An Inspirational Evening

On June 16, TrevorLIVE New York honored three visionaries who have made a difference in the LGBT community. Arianna Huffington was presented with the Trevor Hero Award, presented by Neil Patrick Harris. The Chief Information Officer and partner at Goldman Sachs, Marty Chavez, accepted the Trevor 20/20 Visionary Award on behalf of Goldman Sachs, which was presented by designer, Zac Posen. The Trevor Youth Innovator Award presented by Wells Fargo honored YouTube sensation Tyler Oakley. The fantastic show, directed by Adam Shankman, was hosted by Wanda Sykes at the Marriott Marquis.

Arianna Huffington accepts
the Trevor Hero Award.

“This movement has the wind at its back because our times are calling for all of us — whether LGBTQ or straight — to live our lives authentically, to be true to ourselves, to stop hiding, pretending or living in the shadows, and instead tap into the amazing possibilities that each one of us embodies in all of our uniqueness,” said Huffington when she accepted the Trevor Hero Award.

Tona Brown, the first African American transgender person to play at Carnegie Hall, wowed the audience with a performance from her new album, “This Is Who I Am.” Cheyenne Jackson, accompanied by The Broadway Inspirational Voices, energized the room with his powerful cover of “Somebody to Love,” by Queen. The show also included performances by Rob Thomas, Caissie Levy, Jeremy Jordan, and Montego Glover. Celebrity guests included Zachary Quinto, Lucy Liu, Jane Lynch, Ellen Page, David Burtka, Frank De Julio, Rachael Harris and more.

Violin LiveTona Brown performs at TrevorLIVE.

The Trevor Project gives special thanks to our presenting sponsor, Wells Fargo, as well as to TrevorLIVE Event Chairs James Adams of Schreck, Rose, Dapello & Adams, and Beth Brooke of Ernst & Young.

Honorary Co-Chairs were Jesse Tyler Ferguson & Justin Nikita, Neil Patrick Harris & David Burtka, and Zachary Quinto. Event Vice-Chairs are Phil Armstrong, Brian Dorsey, Ralph Furlo, Matt Schwartz, David Suk, and Keola Whittaker.

To read more about the event, please visit: www.TheTrevorProject.org/TrevorLIVENY


Care with Pride™ and Support Trevor

During Pride season, supporting The Trevor Project is as easy as re-stocking your healthcare and personal care essentials! The Care with Pride™ initiative from the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies is giving you the chance to redeem specially marked coupons online that will donate $1 to our life-saving work.

The Care with Pride™ campaign, created by the Johnson & Johnson Family of Consumer Companies, connects The Trevor Project, PFLAG, and the Family Equality Council in a unique partnership that focuses on cultivating respect and equality for the LGBT community. In addition, the campaign raises awareness about the health and wellbeing of all youth, and inspires people to “pay it forward” by donating to make a difference.

We are so proud to be a part of this national partnership, alongside these two LGBTQ nonprofit leaders. Visit carewithpride.com to learn more about Care with Pride™, redeem coupons that offer $55 in savings, and give your support!


What’s Coming Up for Trevor?

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 17: CEO and Executive Director Abbe Land of the The Trevor Project arrives for The Trevor Project’s 2013 “TrevorLIVE” Event Honoring Cindy Hensley McCain at Chelsea Piers on June 17, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for The Trevor Project) *** Local Caption *** Abbe Land

I am so excited that we’ve now completed the year-long process of developing a comprehensive 3-year strategic plan that will carry us well beyond our 16th year. Its future-forward goals lay the foundation for The Trevor Project’s expansion, and ensure that we focus on continuing to support LGBTQ youth in the strongest way possible.

Over the past several years, The Trevor Project has grown – and this growth will continue as we begin the new fiscal year in August. We have seen that more and more young people across the country are reaching out to Trevor for help, especially in a digital age where a growing number of youth are accessing our online services. To meet this need, we plan to invest in our programs, our infrastructure, and our volunteers.

The focus for this year will be to strengthen and expand the capacity for our crisis services, which will be achieved by adding staff that support the Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorText, and Trevorspace; as well as recruiting more volunteers to work with these programs.

With TrevorSpace in particular, we will dedicate resources to dramatically improve the functionality and usability of the website’s platform, and ensure that the social network is optimized for mobile devices. More young people than ever are accessing this life-affirming site from their phones, and we want to make sure that TrevorSpace members never have to be without this supportive online community.

Our education and advocacy work will continue to be key components of our strategy, and we plan to concentrate these efforts in programs and opportunities where Trevor provides unique value. Trevor’s outreach team will continue to focus on recruiting more volunteers, and all of us will be working to secure the financial resources necessary to support our planned program expansion.

I feel confident and optimistic about The Trevor Project’s direction moving forward, and encourage you to check our website for updates as the year continues. Thank you for supporting The Trevor Project and the LGBTQ youth we serve. We can’t do it without you!


FIFA: Take a Stand Against Homophobia

The Trevor Project joins our partners in solidarity as we ask FIFA, the organizing body of the World Cup, to speak out against the use of homophobic slurs and chants during the games. Learn more about the #StoptheSlurs campaign, HERE.

Open Letter to FIFA

Joseph S. Blatter, President
Fédération Internationale de Football Association
FIFA-Strasse 20,
P.O. Box 8044 Zurich, Switzerland

July 11, 2014

Dear President Blatter,

The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and its allies were extremely disappointed and surprised by FIFA’s recent decision to affirm use of the anti-gay slur ‘puto.’ Conapred, Mexico’s anti-discrimination agency, has come out strongly stating that the word is offensive and hurtful, so it is perplexing that FIFA has determined otherwise.

Sadly, the negative effect of your decision quickly manifested. During the 23 June telecast of the World Cup, fans of team Mexico chanted ‘puto’ more times than ever, along with other anti-gay slurs like ‘culero.’ FIFA seems only to have popularized words that, in many parts of the Spanish-speaking world, mean “faggot.” In countries where it is not specifically an anti-gay epithet, it is a very offensive pejorative, which expresses misogynistic attitudes.

FIFA’s own statutes specify that it would expel fans for discriminatory behavior, yet you are taking no action whatsoever. Economic sanctions against the teams surely are not the only means by which to take a stand. By not addressing the use of anti-gay slurs in advance of the World Cup and by not speaking out against their use now, FIFA is endangering the wellbeing of LGBT sports fans both in its venues, as well as those watching at home. FIFA has also put television networks in an awkward position, forcing them to undermine their own corporate values by airing words that offend countless audience members. Similarly, some World Cup sponsors and advertisers have been forced to compromise their own values, which demand respect for LGBT people and customers.

As groups such as the undersigned have worked to address homophobic behavior at sports games, we have seen organizations step forward and take a stand. Univision read a strong statement on air before and during the half time of the recent Mexico v. Netherlands match that demonstrated the network’s commitment to making broadcasts safe for all fans. ESPN also addressed this issue on air. Both broadcasters have stated, however, that they cannot control the feeds that FIFA provides — and so the ball is back in your court.

FIFA now has the opportunity to do more by creating messages that make your position clear and uphold your own statutes, which prohibit discrimination.

Previously, FIFA was asked to take part in a public education campaign to help eradicate anti-gay slurs from your games. That call was ignored, however. If FIFA continues to turn its head the other way and tacitly condone anti-gay discrimination, we will be left with no choice but to express our very grave concern to your sponsors, several of which have a long history of speaking out against anti-LGBT bias.

FIFA must take decisive action to eliminate anti-LGBT slurs from its venues and stop disregarding the concrete harm these slurs inflict on countless fans.

Yours truly,
Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO, GLAAD
Christina Kahrl, GLAAD National Board of Directors
Chad Griffin, President, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)
Eliza Byard, Executive Director, GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)
Rea Carey, Executive Director, The Task Force
Alex Nogales, President and CEO, National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC)
Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project
Gabriel Blau, Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Michael Silverman, Executive Director, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF)
Nancy Hogshead-Makar, Senior Director of Advocacy, Women’s Sports Foundation
Anna Aagenes, Executive Director, GO! Athletes
Alison Doerfler, Executive Director, Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, Inc.
Nevin Caple, Co-founder and Executive Director, Br{ache the Silence
Les Johnson, Vice President, Federation of Gay Games
Jeff Sheng, FearlessProject.org
Cyd Zeigler, Co-Founder, Outsports
Ari Gutierrez Arambula, Chairperson, Latino Equality Alliance
Luis Ignacio Guzman, Vice President, CODISE A.C. (Mexico)
Esteban Paulón, President, Federación Argentina de Lesbianas Gays Bisexuales y Trans (Argentina)
Jorge-Mario Cabrera, Director of Communications, Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles
Antonio Medina Trejo and Jorge Cerpa Velázquez, AM Comunicación e Información (Mexico)
Rev. Nancy Wilson, Moderator, Metropolitan Community Churches
Marianne Duddy-Burke, Executive Director, DignityUSA
Alex Patchin McNeill, Executive Director, More Light Presbyterians
Francis DeBernardo, Executive Director, New Ways Ministry
Rev. Harry Knox, President and CEO, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
Yolanda Elliott, President, Seventh Day Adventist Kinship International
Rabbi Debra Kolodny, Executive Director, Nehirim


Trevor Joins United Nations Pride Event

As a part of LGBT Pride Month, The Trevor Project is proud to have partnered with the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in an event to commemorate the 45th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York. Hosted by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, this educational experience took place at Roosevelt House at Hunter College in New York, NY on Thursday, June 26

Trevor volunteers, Alyx Steadman (a former leader of the YAC) and Zachary Quinto, both spoke alongside LGBT activist Bill Bahlman and discussed the domestic and international progress we’ve made for LGBT citizens since 1969. However, they also underscored the work left to achieve before rejection, discrimination, and hate are a thing of the past.

“The phones at The Trevor Project still keep ringing day and night,” said U.S. Ambassador Power, after highlighting her commitment to tackle these challenges. “So long as those phones keep ringing, we still have work left to do.”

If you missed the live event, you can walk the recording below.


Trevor Discusses Family Acceptance

On May 29, The Trevor Project will be hosting a briefing on Capitol Hill, sponsored by Congresswomen Jackie Speier and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and in partnership with the Family Acceptance Project. This policy briefing will highlight the critical issue of suicide among LGBTQ youth and the important role of family acceptance in preventing tragedy.

Among the challenges faced by LGBTQ youth is the practice known as “conversion therapy.” Too often, families turn to this dangerous and discredited therapy because of its promise that a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity can be changed. For young people who are forced to participate in “conversion therapy,” the treatment is often seen as a form of rejection by their family, which can lead to negative consequences including depression, anxiety, drug use, and suicidality. Through government advocacy, however, The Trevor Project is working to protect youth from these harmful practices.

Our Capitol Hill briefing will help draw attention to the continued need for our policy makers to get involved in LGBTQ youth suicide prevention by promoting family acceptance, protecting youth from dangerous conversion therapy, and uplifting the health of LGBTQ youth across the country.

Panelists include: Trevor’s Executive Director and CEO, Abbe Land, and Government Affairs Director, Alison Gill; Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project; Brian Altman, Legislative Director at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); and Charlie Kerr, Trevor Youth Advisory Council member.

For more information about Trevor’s policy priorities, visit: TheTrevorProject.org/advocacy


Positive Policy Supports LGBTQ Youth

February is a month of love, and we at Trevor are emphasizing the positive, loving things we can do to help prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth. For young LGBTQ people in school, their environment can make them especially vulnerable. However, by creating safer spaces, promoting inclusive school policies, and building connections between youth and educators, we can help improve the lives of LGBTQ youth nationwide.

To do this, The Trevor Project is sharing a new Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention that focuses on preventing suicide through making positive changes. This comprehensive tool is based in the latest research, and offers accessible tools for improving existing suicide prevention policies and gives guidance to school districts that need help taking their first step.

Created in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the American School Counselor Association and the National Association of School Psychologists, this new resource plays an incredibly important role in supporting LGBTQ youth. We are also pleased to share that Trevor’s Government Affairs Director, Alison Gill, and The Trevor Project will be awarded the Allies for Action Partner Award from AFSP for our work in leading Model Policy’s creation. Congratulations to Alison for all her work on behalf of Trevor!

In addition to promoting this new Model Policy in your district, making schools safer for vulnerable youth is something that anyone can do. Whether it’s hosting a bake sale to fund a Gay-Straight Alliance or dedicating a concert to raising awareness, showing you care about the LGBTQ youth in your area is always a step in the right direction; positive changes like these can help improve a school’s climate, and ultimately, help save a life.

To show your love for the LGBTQ youth in your area and help bring the Model School District Policy on Suicide Prevention to your community, visit: TheTrevorProject.org/pages/modelschoolpolicy.