For young people who identify as LGBTQ, these are perilous times. Adolescence and young adulthood for them often mean conflicts with family, classmates, and community members who cannot accept who they are. The results of this intolerance can be depression and anxiety, homelessness, and even suicide. Now, along with these stresses, young trans and queer people are confronting a global pandemic and renewed assaults on their rights in states like Texas,Florida and Ohio.
In our upcoming #ClassACTForum, we examine the challenges LGBTQ youth face and the ways that advocates, friends and families can offer support. Join us on Thursday, April 7 for LGBTQ Youth Rights: Protecting the Queer Frontier. Our co-sponsor for this ClassACT HR73 forum is JusticeAid, a non-profit founded by HR73 classmate Steve Milliken that raises money through music concerts to aid organizations working for justice and equality. This spring JusticeAid is focusing on SMYAL (Supporting and Mentoring Youth Advocate Leaders), a Washington D.C. organization that mentors LGBTQ youth and provides housing and mental health services as well.
Our moderator will be Tazewell Jones, a JusticeAid board member and an attorney who has fought against injustice since law school when he volunteered for Lambda Legal Alliance and the Innocence Project. Our panel will include Li Nowlin-Sohl, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBTQ Rights team which works to ensure transparency, accountability and adequate mental health treatment in jails and prisons. Li will be joined by Jorge Membreño, a social worker who has helped to provide clinical services and housing for youth and families in Brookline and Washington, and who now serves as deputy executive director of SMYAL. Our final panelist is Alana Jochum, the executive director of Equality Ohio and a co-chair of Equality Federation’s Board of Directors, which advocates in State Houses across the country to safeguard LGBTQ rights.