Activism has always played a major part in my life from the time I was 8. Throughout my life I have been involved in many causes such as women’s health and various political movements. But I didn’t get fully involved in the youth health and rights movement until I was in college and I noticed all the different groups and organizations I could be a part of. In high school I had always noticed the lack of information and ridiculous myths circulating about things such as sexuality. I never stopped seeing groups of people isolated because of their sexual orientation – or just students that wanted to know more about their options to protect themselves but lacked that support because of North Carolina’s abstinence-only education programs. Thanks to the Healthy Youth Act those are slowly dwindling. J Being a part of Advocates for Youth and YouthResource, I just want my generation and those following to be able to be themselves and be fearless, knowing that they can live in the world and be respected. Another imperative goal of mine is to help my peers understand their need to be educated! We as a community have to be proactive, use our resources and apply and offer them to those around us. It is important that we advocate for the health and rights of youth for ourselves and the future because if we don’t… no one will and there can be no change. The interactions I have had with my friends, my peers, my family and community motivate me. We have the greatest capacity to change this country and world and I am grateful I can be a part of it. This will be my third year with YouthResource and Advocates for Youth and now that I am about to graduate from college I have had an abundance of experiences such as internships, classes, and conversations that have created sense urgency with this work. I am ready to take on the world!
I graduated of Portland State University in Portland, Oregon where I majored in Political Science with a Minor in Communication Studies. As a youth activist, I have advocated on behalf of various governmental, community and advocacy entities. My advocacy work has revolved around issues primarily related to youth including underage drinking, obesity, and adolescent risky behaviors. I’ve has also done extensive work in the area of youth & leadership development with young people of color and LGBT young people.
In my professional life, I work as a Unit Director for Boys & Girls Clubs of Portland. Under my role; I oversee the day to day operations of several of the organizations after school centers as well as the organizations marketing and communications portfolios including their social media strategies. At BGCP, I have provided developmental trainings for youth development professional on a host of topics including youth development, discipline and guidance as well as technical assistance trainings in program development, assessment and evaluation.
Since 2008, I have been an activist and Peer Educator for Advocates for Youth, and YouthResources.com, a website by and for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (GLBTQ). At AFY, I provide trainings on issues related to sexual and reproductive justice and social media strategies. Beginning in 2012, I joined the Board of Directors of the organization.
An avid lover of dance, I has been a member of the Ballet Folklorico “Lo Nuestro,” a Mexican folk dancing group for over 12 years.
My name is Belinda and I have been in the United States for approximately ten years. I believe being an immigrant to this country gives me a unique perspective, which has helped me gain a better understanding of international issues, as well as local and personal issues. I have been an active participant in LGTBTQ (and all the other letters) advocacy for a long period of time. I am also actively involved in foster care advocacy. My advocacy work started with True Colors organization, which addresses sexual minority issues. I have been a panelist during their annual conference for three years. Through True Colors, I met my mentor and her partner who have I grown to admire immensely. Through True Colors and the Department of Children and Families, I have been able to spread my work vastly and I look forward to further expansion. Having struggled with familial neglect, the difficulties of coming out and sexual assault, it has become my lifelong goal to save at least one life so that they also, may save a life. I believe my involvement with YouthResource will allow me to be a positive resource for individuals in need of information and support.
Ernesto’s biography is coming soon.
Hey! My name’s Jerome and I am a young person just like you. I enjoy making art, going shopping with friends, watching movies, and obsessing over tumblr fashion blogs. The one thing that may be considered a little “out of the ordinary” is my dedication to making the world a better place for everyone! That’s why I advocate for things like Contraception Access, Comprehensive Sexual Education and Same Sex Marriage. For I believe that these things (and many, many more) should be a standard in todays society, not something that has to be voted on by the government.
And guess what, you could be doing the same! If you feel like something isn’t right in your own school system or local government, make some noise! Let them know! Your small voice could be the spark that ignites change in your community!
Stand Up. Ignite Change. Transform Your World.
Hello my name is Rikki. I got involved with Advocates for Youth because I wanted to be a better resource for my campus. We had no official LGBT Center and I inherited the mock LGBT Center, which was just a student office managed by a small group of students. I had no clue what a resource center should look like. Then I found Advocates for Youth, specifically Youth Resource. My life changed. I started tuning in to some of the greater issues, which in this case included activism as a lifelong practice to make something better.
I started falling in love with the idea that, my voice could create change and this organization (Advocates for Youth) was here to help me. Activism is important because it is the only way to create change, when I repeatedly stand up for what I believe in, for example equal human rights or the right to know about your own sexual reproductive health, I create awareness and through that awareness others tune in, like I did. This is a beautiful phenomenon, especially when many people are involved.
I am still involved as an active citizen because I feel this is the only way to remain knowledgeable and the only way to hold Politician and the Government accountable. Not to mention that not everyone is equal. Slowly but surely, as long as people like you and me stand up for what we believe in then we can move towards a better place. Activism can be simple; I learned that through watching the amazing people I have met at Advocates for Youth. Use your voice!
I have always had this drive to make life better for others in the same way previous generations have for me. My work centers on GLBTQ issues in youth and in sexual health education among other fields. Other areas I have done activism for are prison reform, anti bullying legislation, broader rights in the queer community. GLBTQ issues for youth became a major concern of mine going into high school. After joining my schools Gay-Straight Alliance, I had an outlet to start doing work. Though I always seemed to have a heightened interest in my high school health class, I got more involved in sexual health education when I got to college. I realized that my middle school had provided me a fantastic sex education while many of my peers were not granted that same privilege. I am working with the Great American Condom Campaign to help fill the gap that abstinence only education has left on my campus. What continues to motivate me is when I see young people helping themselves and then gaining the courage to help their peers when it comes to GLBT issues and reproductive health.
What I want most for everyone, especially youth, is to feel conformable in their own skin and in knowing who they are. We all have multiple identities working at the same time and being true to all of them while making a place in the world can be a challenge. But being able to work with all of these identities is a major strength to be worked up to.
My passion for humanity and social justice probably started in high school when I learned about the concept of unearned privilege, the fact that some people’s lives are easier because of their majority status (i.e. white, heterosexual, male, etc.). I realized the unfairness of the situation and became much more aware of the disparities of minority groups. As a queer person of color, I was alarmed by the disparities faced by the minority groups with whom I closely identify. My experiences with oppression throughout my life have made me much more compassionate and willing to do the work necessary to end these injustices.
In my first year of college I joined GenderBloc, a radical queer activist group focusing on transgender issues. I also became involved in the Racial Awareness Program, through which I learned the skills necessary to educate my peers about issues regarding race, gender, and sexuality. I focus most of my energy on education because I believe that education is a key component of making the right decisions (whether that decision is to acquire condoms or to refrain from using derogatory language). I do my best to teach others about the LGBT community and to destigmatize sexual minorities.
In my ideal world, the words “gay” and “transgender” will no longer be associated with negative parts of society. I want children and adults to be comfortable with these concepts and recognize them as valid identities for any person. I want to be a part of creating a more sex positive world that celebrates diversity of all sorts. I’m so happy to be a part of this movement and I can’t wait to see all the positive results.
I became a sexual health activist after I realized that my peers and I were
being misrepresented in educational resources and policy. Being fueled by my anger
and rage, I have gone on to advocate for many marginalized groups including
young people of color, the LGBTQ community and the disability community. I have
been involved with many projects including being a youth organizer for the Illinois
Caucus for Adolescent Health and an avid member for the Illinois Youth Policy Council.
I am a DePaul University alumna and is currently a Bilingual Health Educator/HIV Tester for the Center on Halsted & the Illinois Department of Public Health in Chicago.