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Trevor Project responds to reports of staff dissension, union busting

Trevor declined to make senior leadership available for interviews for the story nor would sources speak with attribution for this story

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The Trevor Project staff marching in New York City Pride 2023. (Photo Credit: The Trevor Project/Facebook)

WASHINGTON – The Trevor Project, a non-profit that works to end suicide among LGBTQ youth, responded to a recent Washington Blade report alleging widespread staff dissension, union busting, and other challenges, acknowledging it needs to improve the working environment for its crisis counselors, but disputing many of the other allegations made by nearly a dozen current and former senior employees.

The Blade story, published on Aug. 10, further alleges long wait times for distressed callers and some former staffers said the organization grew too quickly, resulting in a drop in service quality.

“A lot of us were joking that it was the most corporatized nonprofit that anyone has ever worked for,” said a former mid-level employee who spoke on condition of anonymity. “It was very money driven, very growth, growth, growth.”

But a former Trevor official responded, saying that the growth enabled Trevor to help more youth in crisis and that significant changes were made to improve service. Trevor declined to make senior leadership available for interviews for the Aug. 10 story nor would sources speak with attribution for this story.

Specifically, a Trevor spokesperson said the organization made the following changes:

• Shifting Clinical Operations’ focus to prioritize quality, sustainability, and impact instead of growth;

• Transforming the staffing model across lifeline and digital crisis services to address overnight understaffing, inaccurate workforce planning, and unrealistic goals;

• Increasing pay and wellness benefits for Clinical Operations staff. 

The changes have resulted in a decrease in abandonment rates across services, the spokesperson said, noting the organization has the highest level of accreditation from the American Association of Suicidology. 

Staff concerns led to the Friends of Trevor United union to begin organizing in early 2022. Gloria Middleton, president of the Communications Workers of America Local 1180, under which Friends of Trevor is organized, said Trevor opposed the union. While union organizers were in talks with Trevor, the organization began laying off workers. The union condemned that, calling it “union busting,” and said that Trevor intentionally gave the union very little time to respond. 

The Trevor spokesperson disputes this, saying the union didn’t form until 2023.

“We voluntarily recognized the union in approximately six weeks,” the spokesperson said. “… We communicated to staff immediately to acknowledge the recognition request and said that we respect employees’ right to unionize; when Trevor recognized the union, we communicated to staff again that we were pleased to share that information.” 

Crisis counselor Rae Kaplan told the Blade she was fired by Trevor for reacting with emojis during an all-staff meeting, another accusation that Trevor disputes.

The Trevor spokesperson said Kaplan was a contractor at Insight Global, not a staff member, therefore, Insight Global informed Rae of the separation.

“Nobody’s role was reduced, nor would be, for using Google Meet reactions or emojis,” the Trevor source said.

Trevor’s CEO and co-founder Peggy Rajski is a straight, white cisgender woman and sources told the Blade that the C-suite is almost entirely white and cisgender.

“I think there needs to be a permanent CEO who is LGBTQ+,” said Preston Mitchum, who served as a director of advocacy and government affairs at Trevor before he quit in February. “And in my opinion, one who is a person of color, or at least someone who actively understands intersectional framework and how to have these culturally important clinical conversations of competence and responsibility to specific communities.”

But Trevor claims it prizes diversity among its executive team and that the team is composed of “experienced leaders, including: eight women (seven who are cisgender, one who is transgender); four men (three who are cisgender, one who is transgender); in addition, seven are BIPOC.” Additionally, in the last few years, Trevor has created the organization’s first affinity groups: Black@Trevor, Trans@Trevor, AAPI@Trevor, Latinx@Trevor, and Disability@Trevor, the source noted.

Trevor also takes issue with allegations that it had lax policies governing staff spending. One source told the Blade, “there were no policies around spending,” while another insisted that the organization did not even have a per diem policy in place for employee travel.

“Like any organization, we have policies and approval processes around expenses such as travel, meals, business spending, etc., as well as annual budgeting,” the Trevor source said, adding that the per diem policy is spelled out in an employee handbook.

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LGBTQ Non-Profit Organizations

Brandon Wolf becomes Human Rights Campaign spokesperson

Wolf is a long-time LGBTQ rights activist, gun control advocate, author and survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre

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Photo courtesy of Brandon J. Wolf

By Cal Benn | WASHINGTON – Equality Florida Press Secretary Brandon Wolf on Tuesday announced he will become the Human Rights Campaign’s next National Press Secretary.

Wolf is a long-time LGBTQ rights activist, gun control advocate, author and survivor of the Pulse nightclub massacre. 

Wolf sent an email to colleagues on Tuesday, stating it was an honor to work for Equality Florida and their work is “vital” for freedom in the state. He ended the message on a hopeful note, signing off with “here’s to a future we can all be proud of.”

“We are in a critical moment in the fight for freedom and full equality across the country … I’m thrilled and honored for the opportunity to bring the experience and learnings from the frontlines at Equality Florida to this work,” said Wolf. “Now is the time for LGBTQ+ people across the country to rally around a vision for a better, freer, more equal future. I’m proud to be in the fight at HRC.”

In an emailed statement to the Blade, Equality Florida wrote,

“We have bittersweet news to share. Brandon Wolf is taking on a new role in our movement as the Human Rights Campaign‘s National Press Secretary in Washington, D.C.! While we’ll miss Brandon on the Equality Florida team, we know he’s taking the experience and insights we’ve developed here in Florida to guide how our movement responds nationally to extremists who seek to strip away basic rights, censor our existence, and embolden those that seek to harm us.

We’re not losing a frontline warrior; we are gaining an even deeper connection to a vital national resource! And we look forward to our continued work with Brandon and the entire HRC team!”

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Cal Benn, is a journalism major at Emerson College who is in D.C. with the Washington Center, and is a Fall intern at the Washington Blade.

Benn’s work focuses on human rights, climate change and how the two issues intersect. They are also passionate about sustainability, advocacy and writing and enjoy skateboarding and playing with their cats when they are not writing.

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Anti-trans healthcare bans: ‘Striking’ impact on LGBTQ community

HRC conducted the survey, which included more than 14,000 LGBTQ adult participants from all 50 states and D.C.

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Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – According to findings from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s 17th Annual LGBTQ+ Community Survey, the proliferation of bans on gender affirming care in conservative states have had “striking” impacts on “the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ adults.”

For example, 79.1 percent of respondents reported feeling less safe as an LGBTQ person as a result of these health care restrictions, while nearly half said the policies affected the physical and/or mental health of themselves or their loved ones.

Some of the specific negative consequences of gender affirming care bans, 80.5 percent of respondents said, include the worsening of “harmful stereotypes, discrimination, hate, and stigma against the LGBTQ+ community.”

HRC conducted the survey, which included more than 14,000 LGBTQ adult participants from all 50 states and D.C., in partnership with Community Marketing and Insights, publishing the findings in a report released on Thursday.

The group noted more than 80 anti-LGBTQ bills were passed in statehouses across the country so far in 2023, including bans on guideline directed gender affirming health care that are now enforced in 19 states — which, collectively, are home to a third of all trans youth in the U.S.

Along with addressing the survey questions, participants submitted written responses that provide more information and context about the ways in which their lives have been impacted by the anti-trans legislation.

For example, the survey’s finding that more than half of transgender and non-binary adults nationwide “would move — or already have moved — from a state that passed or enacted a gender-affirming care ban” is preceded by a quote from a trans/nonbinary man about the emotional decision of having to flee his home state:

“My home state, where I no longer live, is one of the states most affected by the wave of
legislation,” he said. “My community there is in so much pain, and it pains me very much that I may never be able to visit home again.”

Anti-trans policies have profoundly shaped how LGBTQ adults organize their lives, the data shows, influencing decisions about where they live, work, go to school, and spend their money.

HRC’s report includes a section on Florida, noting it had issued a travel advisory on the risks of visiting or relocating to the state as a result of the “extremely anti-LGBTQ+ agenda” pushed by its Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who, by running for president, “has threatened to bring his discriminatory policymaking to the national level.”

“I feel like I am losing my basic rights over my body and my right to exist in public spaces,” wrote a transmasculine/nonbinary Floridian. “I feel dehumanized.”

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HRC survey of LGBTQ youth finds ‘persistent, serious challenges’

The report is based on findings from the nationwide 2022 Youth Survey of nearly 13,000 LGBTQ young people aged 13 to 18

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Human Rights Campaign headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

WASHINGTON – Results of the forthcoming 2023 LGBTQ+ Youth Report by the Human Rights Campaign’s HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut “reveal persistent, serious challenges for LGBTQ+ youth.”

The report is based on findings from the nationwide 2022 Youth Survey of nearly 13,000 LGBTQ young people aged 13-18 that is conducted by the advocacy group and the university every five years.

HRC plans to publish the results this week but shared an advance copy of the 19-page report, which contains 22 tables of data, with the Washington Blade.

It reveals that nearly a third of youth respondents have not disclosed their sexual orientation to their parents, while 41 percent of transgender and gender-expansive youth have never had their chosen name used at home.

Additionally, more than half of the surveyed LGBTQ youth screened positive for depression, and an even greater number — 63.5 percent — for anxiety, with 41.7 percent reporting that they were unable to access therapy they wanted.

The topics covered in the survey are extensive, ranging from whether respondents’ schools have GSA clubs to whether (and how frequently) their preferred names and pronouns are used by teachers and classmates to whether they are concerned about being out when they join the workforce.

Each is broken down into sub-categories — for example, youth were asked to share the extent to which they feel safe not just in school, but in various school settings like classrooms, bathrooms, locker rooms, hallways, libraries and cafeterias.

Youth were also asked to share whether they were victimized over other aspects of their identity such as race, religion, disability and body weight.

The data on mental health is consistent with recent findings by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in a report published this year entitled “Moving Beyond Change Efforts: Evidence and Action to Support and Affirm LGBTQI+ Youth.”

In June, the White House announced a series of actions to help address the mental health crisis for LGBTQ youth, which included instructions for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to initiate a behavioral health care advisory for trans and gender diverse youth.

HRC notes, however, that the survey found “room for hope,” including from the high number of respondents who are “advocating for inclusivity and equality in their homes, schools and communities.”

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Executive director of Equality Virginia: Book bans are ‘insidious’

“Libraries and are places where children can and should be welcomed, safe, respected and included. Books and librarians literally save lives”

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(Photo by Terri Schlichenmeyer)

RICHMOND, VA. – The executive director of Equality Virginia this week reiterated her sharp criticism of efforts to ban books with LGBTQ-specific content.

“There is a dangerous, insidious trend developing in states around the country where innocuous and inclusive books are being removed from libraries and curricula, including and especially books and resources about LGBTQ+ people,” Narissa Rahaman told the Washington Blade on Tuesday in a statement. “We should not be pursuing book bans in a pluralistic democracy, but rather seeking to provide more information, more resources, more points of view for anyone seeking it out.” 

Robert Rigby, Jr., a spokesperson for FCPS Pride, a group that represents LGBTQ employees of the Fairfax County School District, echoed Rahaman.

“Libraries and are places where children can and should be welcomed, safe, respected and included. Books and librarians literally save lives,” Rigby told the Blade on Wednesday. “Practically, inclusive book and materials collections improve attendance, scores, graduation rates and well-being. FCPS Pride respects and trusts our professional librarians. They are heroes who make schools a better place for all.”

Rahaman and Rigby spoke with the Blade against the backdrop of continued efforts to ban books with LGBTQ-specific content as students return to the classroom in Virginia and around the country.

A group of parents who want the ability to allow their children to opt-out of classes in which books with LGBTQ-specific books are read have filed a federal lawsuit against the Montgomery County Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools Supt. Monifa McKnight. A hearing in the case took place in U.S. District Court in Greenbelt on Wednesday.

“The Montgomery County Board of Education took away parental notice and opt-outs for storybooks that advocate pride parades, gender transitioning and pronoun preferences for kids as young as pre-kindergarten,” said Becket, a conservative law firm that advocates for religious freedom, in a statement about the case. “Becket is helping a group of Muslim, Catholic and Ethiopian Orthodox parents who want to restore their ability to raise their children consistent with their faith.” 

NBC Washington on Tuesday reported Michelle Ross, director of the Samuels Public Library in Front Royal, Va., has resigned after she and her staff faced harsh criticism from a group that wants to ban books with LGBTQ-specific content. Donald “Mac” Scothorn, chair of the Botetourt County (Va.) Board of Supervisors, on July 31 proposed adult supervision for anyone under 18-years-old who visits the county’s four libraries.  

The Hillsborough County School District in Florida ahead of the 2023-2024 school year has prohibited teachers from teaching their students about William Shakespeare, citing the state’s “Don’t Say Gay” law that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis signed. The Urbandale Community School District in Iowa has removed a Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg biography and nearly 400 other books from school libraries and classrooms.

“We even see extremists ban books and attempt to erase, and even rewrite, the ugly parts of our history,” said Vice President Kamala Harris in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 1 in response to the Florida Board of Education’s new Black history curricula standards that suggest slavery had benefits. “Right here in Florida, they plan to teach students that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us, in an attempt to divide and distract our nation with unnecessary debates.”

A federal judge in Texas in April ordered Llano County officials return books — many of which had LGBTQ-specific content — they removed from their public libraries. 

Republican Arkansas Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders earlier this year signed a law that would have made it a crime for librarians and booksellers to provide access to books and other materials deemed “harmful to minors.” The statute was to have taken effect on Aug. 1, but a federal judge blocked it.

The College Board on Aug. 3 said the Florida Department of Education had effectively banned the teaching of Advanced Placement Psychology classes in the state’s schools because the course includes discussions about sexual orientation and gender identity. Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr., in a letter he sent to the Florida Association of District School Superintendents the following day said the course could be taught “in its entirety.”

California officials — Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Rob Bonta and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond — in a June 1 letter to the state’s public school superintendents and charter school administrators told them not to ban books. The Prince George’s County Memorial Library System the day before announced the launch of its Rock Banned Book Club.

“Here in Virginia, we were founded in response to government overreach,” Rahaman told the Blade. “As this conversation moves throughout state legislatures, we’re hopeful that our founding principles and open society outweigh the fear-mongering from opportunistic politicians and government officials.” 

Brody Levesque and Christopher Kane contributed to this article.

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LGBTQ+ nonprofits to social media platforms: Stop anti-trans hate

Sia, Shawn Mendes, Ariana Grande, Billy Porter, Elliot Page, Jonathan Van Ness and more sign letter to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and YouTube

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Photo by Dan Balinovic

LOS ANGELES — Queer advocacy nonprofits GLAAD and HRC sent a joint letter Tuesday to the big five social media companies, calling out their failure to stop the spread of anti-LGBTQ+ hate, harassment and disinformation online.

The letter is signed by more than 250 influential celebrities from movies, TV and music as well as activists, advocates and public figures, both LGBTQ+ and allies. 

“True allies do not profit from anti-LGBTQ hate,” said the Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD in their letter to the social media honchos: Mark Zuckerberg of Meta Platforms, Inc., which owns Facebook and Instagram; Neal Mohan, the CEO of YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google; TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, whose company is owned by China-based ByteDance, Ltd.; as well as new Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino and her boss, Elon Musk. 

Among the hundreds of famous names are pop music stars like Sam Smith, Demi Lovato and Ariana Grande, actors Elliot Page Patrick Stewart and Wilson Cruz, and icons including Laverne Cox, ALOK and Billy Porter. 

Click here to read the full letter and see all the signatories.

“There has been a massive systemic failure to prohibit hate, harassment, and malicious anti-LGBTQ disinformation on your platforms and it must be addressed,” the letter states. “The very content you profit from is in violation of your own terms of service, which assert that you do not allow hate speech.”

The letter follows the release of GLAAD’s third annual Social Media Safety Index (SMSI), a report on LGBTQ+ user safety, privacy, and expression, released earlier this month. For the second year in a row, all five major social media platforms – Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitter – received low and failing scores on GLAAD’s SMSI Platform Scorecard. 

According to GLAAD, Twitter is the most dangerous platform for LGBTQ+ people, given that it was the only one to receive scores that declined from last year’s report. 

“It’s about time that social media CEOs hear from leaders on their platforms whose content and creativity drive profits and revenue for them,” said GLAAD CEO Sara Kate Ellis in a statement. “You can draw a direct line from online hate and misinformation about trans people to the hundreds of anti-trans bills across the U.S. as well as the rise in violence against LGBTQ people. Until social media platforms take real action, our community continues to be at risk.”

“For far too many LGBTQ+ people, their existence online is marred by rampant, unchecked disinformation and harassment that goes ignored by the very platforms, which directly benefit from their creativity, their content, and their stories,” said Kelley Robinson, president of HRC. “We’re living in a state of emergency, and it’s time that these social media platforms and tech giants take long-overdue action and actually enforce policies that ensure LGBTQ+ people do not face disproportionate harassment and hate simply for being who we are or loving who we love.” 

The letter asks the CEOs to address disinformation about gender-affirming care, take action against accounts spreading anti-LGBTQ+ hate in violation of their own policies, crackdown on targeted online attacks against trans influencers and public figures and to tackle hate speech, which includes targeted misgendering and deadnaming. 

Targeted misgendering is when someone intentionally refers to a transgender person with the wrong gender. Deadnaming is when someone refers to a transgender person by their former name without their consent. Misgendering can lead to increased levels of psychological stress and depression, according to studies, and targeted misgendering and deadnaming have been identified as a form of hate speech by the Anti-Defamation League, GLAAD and Media Matters.

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GLAAD: Queer people ‘nearly invisible’ in mainstream advertising

No ad featuring LGBTQ+ scored higher than ‘insufficient’ in inaugural advertising visibility index. Only 3% of TV ads included LGBTQ+ people

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CANNES, France — Advertisers received failing grades in a new scorecard produced by GLAAD and a marketing analytics company, part of what the media advocacy organization labeled the first-ever LGBTQ+ visibility index of mainstream TV ads. 

Madison Avenue is deliberately making the community “invisible to appease anti-LGBTQ activists,” according to its president and CEO. 

The GLAAD Advertising Visibility Index, which was released overnight during the 2023 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, also revealed a majority of consumers support brands that are LGBTQ+ inclusive. 

According to the report, 66% of Americans surveyed said they feel advertisers have a responsibility to provide visibility for LGBTQ+ individuals, couples, and families within their content. And Gen Z respondents were nearly 1.5x more likely to say advertisers are not appropriately representing LGBTQ+ people.

GLAAD’s scorecard graded ads based on how they showed representation, the type of LGBTQ+ content in the ads, how much screen time LGBTQ+ people were given, as well as when and where these ads were shown. Each ad was rated on a 5-point scale that ranged from “Failing” to “Excellent.”

  • Of the 436 ads that appeared on national broadcast, cable and satellite television from the top 10 largest advertisers, LGBTQ+ people received a paltry 1.42% of screen time.
  • Only 3% of those TV ads from the top 10 largest advertisers included LGBTQ+ people.
  • Not one LGBTQ-inclusive ad reviewed in this report rated higher than “Insufficient” in  representation.
  • More than 70% of inclusive ads featured LGBTQ+ celebrities, although celebrity inclusion is the least effective driver for telling LGBTQ+ stories in advertising, according to GLAAD and Kantar’s survey of U.S. consumers.

“The ad industry is decades behind television and film when it comes to LGBTQ inclusion, but consumers are ready and willing to see the industry grow the quality, quantity, and diversity of ads,” said GLAAD President and CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement to the Los Angeles Blade. “Brands that keep us invisible to appease anti-LGBTQ activists are not only missing a large and loyal consumer base today, but are missing a future generation of consumers and employees who demand that brands include LGBTQ people and other diverse communities in authentic and organic ways.”

According to the report, “consumers placed high importance on inclusive ads featuring universal empathy and realism, more than LGBTQ celebrities.”

  • 54% of consumers who took part in the survey said quality representation includes LGBTQ+ people in realistic stories and with instances of empathy and humanity.
  • Only 31% of consumers who responded said good representation is rooted in featuring a celebrity who is LGBTQ+.
  • 79% of non-LGBTQ+ consumers and 88% of LGBTQ+ consumers agreed brands should strive for what GLAAD called “multi-dimensional and human representation” when including LGBTQ+ people in advertising or content. 

“Consumers have spoken,” said Valeria Piaggio, Global Head of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Kantar. “They want business to do better and are prepared to change their buying decisions if companies do not. Data from Kantar U.S. MONITOR finds that 67% of people state that it’s important for companies they buy from actively promote diversity and inclusion in their own business or society as a whole.”


You can read the full report at www.GLAAD.org/AdIndex

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The Dru Project: Empowering queer youth through education

Many queer students face discrimination, rejection, and limited resources that hinder their academic ambitions

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The Dru Project's founders, (L-R) Shawn Chaudhry, Brandon Wolf, & Sara Grossman (Photo Credit: The Dru Project)

ORLANDO – The Dru Project, an Orlando-based nonprofit organization, is dedicated to providing scholarships to queer youth, empowering them to pursue their dreams and create a brighter future.

The Dru Project was established in loving memory of Drew Leinonen, by three of his best friends to honor Leinonen, who tragically lost his life in the devastating Pulse nightclub shooting on June 12, 2016.

“Drew’s compassionate spirit and unwavering belief in the power of queer youth inspired us to honor his legacy by offering scholarships to deserving queer students who face unique challenges on their journey to higher education. Together, we have worked for 7 years to keep Drew’s spirit and legacy alive, and have succeeded — thanks in part to our incredible supporters!” said the non-profit’s spokesperson Sara Grossman.

In an emailed statement, the non-profit noted:

Our mission is simple yet powerful: to create a world where every LGBTQ+ young person has access to quality education, enabling them to become future leaders, advocates, and change-makers. We believe that education is not only a pathway to personal growth and success but also a tool for breaking down barriers and fostering inclusivity within our society.

By supporting The Dru Project, you have the opportunity to make a tangible and lasting impact on the lives of queer youth. Your generous donation will help us provide scholarships to deserving individuals, enabling them to pursue their academic aspirations and achieve their fullest potential. These scholarships cover not only tuition fees but also additional expenses such as textbooks, accommodation, and other educational necessities.

Your contribution will not only provide financial assistance but also send a powerful message of support to these young individuals. Many queer students face discrimination, rejection, and limited resources that hinder their academic ambitions. By investing in their education, you are telling them that their dreams are valid and that they are deserving of every opportunity available to them.

Here’s how your donation can make a difference:

$50 can provide textbooks and study materials for a semester.
$100 can contribute to covering transportation expenses for commuting students.
$250 can help support mental health and counseling services for a struggling student.
$500 can assist in funding a student’s housing costs for a semester.

Any amount you can give will help change a young person’s life and contribute to a more inclusive society. This year, it is especially pertinent to raise extra funds because we have 80 applications for 7 scholarships. 

Recent scholarship awardees. (Photo Credit: The Dru Project)

We invite you to be part of our mission to uplift and empower queer youth through education. Your tax-deductible donation will ensure that deserving students have the opportunity to pursue their dreams without the burden of financial obstacles.

To make a contribution, please visit our secure online donation page here. Every dollar counts, and we are grateful for any amount you can give.

If you are unable to donate at this time, there are other ways you can support our cause. Follow us online and share our mission with your friends, family, and colleagues, spreading awareness about the vital importance of inclusive education. Volunteer your time or skills to assist us in organizing fundraising events or mentoring our scholars. Every act of support, big or small, helps us create a better future for queer youth.

“Thank you for considering our request and for your ongoing commitment to equality, education, and the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth. Together, we can turn tragedy into hope, despair into resilience, and dreams into reality,” said Brandon Wolf, Vice-President, The Dru Project.

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Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation launches TransPLUS Initiative

In addition to grant funding the TransPLUS Initiative will seek to amplify voices & build greater public awareness

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Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation/Los Angeles Blade graphic

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – In response to what it calls the unprecedented challenges facing transgender, gender non-conforming and non-binary (“TGNCNB”) members of the LGBTQ+ community, the Connecticut-based Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation has announced the launch of its new TransPLUS initiative.

The program is intended to provide financial and other support for organizations and individuals whose work focuses on those most impacted in the current political and cultural environment.

“The name is very deliberate,” said Foundation Trustee Robyn Schlesinger, who will be spearheading the initiative. “We seek to emPower the TGNCNB community, and we believe that every Trans Life Matters. We know that we are strongest when we are Unified, and—now more than ever—we must prioritize the Safety of our community by responding to hate with radical love.”

In addition to grant funding, the TransPLUS Initiative will seek to amplify voices of TGNCNB leaders and build greater public awareness of the community’s socio-economic and political challenges. “We are all fortunate to be growing in our understanding of the nuanced, socialized, and evolving experiences of gender identity and expression,” said Executive Director Colin Hosten, “especially as they intersect with racial and economic justice.”

Through its Community Grant fund, the Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation has already awarded grants to a number of Trans-led and Trans-focused organizations, such as the Eastern PA Trans Equity Project and Power Safe Resource Center of Virginia.

The TransPLUS Initiative aims to provide dedicated support to many more organizations, and has already identified its first recipient: The Sam and Devorah Foundation for Transgender Youth will receive a multi-year grant to support its unique Trans Mentorship Program that pairs TGNCNB youth and young adults with trained and supervised TGNCNB mentors.

“We felt it was time to step up, as more and more of our transgender friends were being singled out for discrimination and abuse,” said Founding Trustee Elliot Leonard. “I am grateful to Robyn for leading this effort, and look forward to helping to recognize the neediest fund recipients, as well as supporting the most impactful programs for the community.”

“Hopefully this will only inspire more individuals and organizations to do what they can to support our trans family in this time of urgent need,” added Trustee Andrew Mitchell-Namdar.

The Leonard Litz LGBTQ+ Foundation is committed to helping LGBTQ+ people achieve their full potential by funding organizations working in advocacy, programming, and service on behalf of our community, particularly in the areas of Health and Wellness, Crisis Intervention, Racial Justice, Advocacy and Community Engagement, and Social Assistance and Programming.

Learn more about the Leonard Litz TransPLUS Initiative at www.leonardlitz.org/

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Barbara Poma leaves leadership role at OnePULSE Foundation

Poma recently served as executive director before pivoting to focus her work on the Foundation’s national fundraising efforts

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Barbara Poma the founder and executive director of the onePulse Foundation (Photo Credit: Barbara Poma)

By Paulo Murillo | ORLANDO – Barbara Poma the founder and executive director of the onePulse Foundation has stepped down from her leadership role in the not-for-profit which was established following the June 12, 2016 tragedy at the Pulse nightclub.

OnePULSE released the following statement this week:

In the completion of a planned leadership transition that began in 2021, Barbara Poma, Founder of the onePULSE Foundation, has stepped down from her position at the Foundation. Poma recently served as executive director before pivoting to focus her work on the Foundation’s national fundraising efforts as part of a new leadership structure.

Poma was succeeded as executive director by Deborah Bowie. Poma co-founded Pulse nightclub in 2004, and the club became globally recognized as a joyful gathering place for the LGBTQIA+ community and their families.

The Foundation is grateful to Barbara for her many contributions, and commitment to onePULSE, and for being a lifetime advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community. Additionally, the onePULSE Foundation Board of Trustees recently updated its three-year strategic plan to better position the Foundation as it continues to drive forward the project that will honor and preserve the legacy of those killed and create a sanctuary of hope. The Foundation
plans to provide updates to the project’s progress and next steps in the run-up to the annual Pulse Remembrance Week in June.

The City Council of the City of West Hollywood presented a Key to the City to Poma last February 7, 2022 during a regular teleconference meeting of the West Hollywood City Council.

The West Hollywood City Council also issued two Proclamations, one to Poma, and one to the onePULSE Foundation – in recognition of their dedication and commitment to preserving the legacies of lives lost at the Pulse nightclub mass shootings.

The proclamations were given by council member John Erickson during a drag brunch fundraiser at Rocco’s WeHo. Mayor Lauren Meister presented Poma with the Key to the City.

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Paulo Murillo is Editor in Chief and Publisher of WEHO TIMES. He brings over 20 years of experience as a columnist, reporter, and photo journalist.

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The preceding article was previously published by WeHo Times and is republished with permission.

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Trevor Project: “Sharing Space” to amplify voices of LGBTQ youth

Viewers will be able to access the video when it officially launches on YouTube at 12pm ET on March 31 marking Transgender Day of Visibility

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Daniel Radcliffe (Screenshot/YouTube The Trevor Project)

NEW YORK CITY – Ahead of Trans Day of Visibility this Friday, March 31st The Trevor Project is launching a new original content series produced by its in-house team called “Sharing Space” – and the inaugural episode is hosted by Daniel Radcliffe.

The series features a roundtable discussion format, where LGBTQ young people share their experiences and discuss a variety of topics impacting their daily lives. 

The first episode of “Sharing Space” features six transgender and nonbinary young people who sit down with Radcliffe to have a candid, vulnerable, and illuminating conversation about their personal journeys and unique lived experiences.

An advocate for LGBTQ rights, Radcliffe helps facilitate a heartfelt discussion exploring topics such as gender euphoria, respecting pronouns, self-discovery, and what genuine allyship looks like. “Sharing Space” provides a much-needed platform for young trans and nonbinary voices – whom new research shows are coming out at younger ages compared to previous generations. The conversations bring humanity to identities that are often marginalized, misunderstood, and weaponized in political spheres. 

In discussing the episode, Radcliffe states: “We listen to so many people talk about trans youth and hear them talked about so often in the news, but very rarely do we actually hear from these youth directly. It was an absolute privilege to get to meet and listen to this incredible group of young people. At the end of the day, if you’re going to talk about trans kids, it might be useful to actually listen to trans kids.”

Radcliffe’s ongoing support of The Trevor Project dates back over a decade, when the actor starred in a PSA to raise awareness of the organization’s free and confidential crisis services. In 2011, Radcliffe was honored with the Trevor Hero Award at the annual TrevorLIVE gala, where he gave an impassioned speech to LGBTQ young people going through their darkest moments.

The release of this new series is more timely than ever, as a record-number of anti-LGBTQ bills – the majority of which target trans and nonbinary young people – are being introduced and considered in states across the country.

This vitriolic rhetoric is incredibly harmful to trans and nonbinary youth, who already face disproportionate levels of victimization, violence, and suicide risk. According to The Trevor Project’s research, 86% of trans and nonbinary youth say recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health — and as a result of these policies and debates in the last year, 45% of trans youth experienced cyberbullying, and nearly 1 in 3 reported not feeling safe to go to the doctor or hospital when they were sick or injured.

“Sharing Space” comes on the heels of The Trevor Project launching another series, “Learn with Love,” which highlights the stories of three transgender young people and the adults who came to love and accept them. Both “Sharing Space” and “Learn with Love” are designed to be episodic and chronicle the experiences of LGBTQ young people through their own words, in a world where their identities are being relentlessly attacked and invalidated by adults across U.S. politics and culture.

Coinciding with Transgender Day of Visibility on March 31 — an annual event celebrating trans joy and honoring the contributions of the trans community — “Sharing Space” is an uplifting series in which viewers can walk away with a more positive understanding of the trans experience.  

“Our goal in developing this kind of content is to turn the microphone toward LGBTQ young people themselves and let them speak directly about their lives, which they know best,” said Megan Stowe, VP of Brand and Content at The Trevor Project.

“LGBTQ young people, particularly transgender and nonbinary youth, are routinely forced to stand by and watch adults debate their very existence and life experiences. Our society has created boxes that young people are expected to fit into, when we should be giving them the space and autonomy to figure out who they are on their own. That’s why it’s so important that we continue to amplify young LGBTQ voices that are so often silenced, and work towards creating a safer, more accepting world where they can thrive just as they are.” 

The Trevor Project intends to release several episodes of “Sharing Space” throughout the year, and each episode will feature a different theme, different host, and different group of LGBTQ young people.

Viewers can sign up to watch the YouTube Premiere of the first episode of “Sharing Space” with Daniel Radcliffe, live at 12pm ET on Friday, March 31 on The Trevor Project’s YouTube Channel.

Sharing Spaces – Episode 1, Daniel Radcliffe | Trailer:

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