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LGBT Youth Leaders the Focus of Saturday’s Plenary

February 6, 2010

Aiden Aizumi is awarded with the Paul A. Anderson Award for Youth Leadership. Aizumi, 21, is a transman activist currently studying to become a firefighter/paramedic. Aizumi is an active member of PFLAG and is currently a member of the Pasadena PFLAG executive board and participates in informational panels with PFLAG to educate local high schools and colleges about the LGBT community. Aizumi serves on the Youth Advisory Council of The Trevor Project and has a leadership role in the youth leadership of the organization. Aizumi is photographed here with this proud mom, Marsha.

Panel participants (left to right):┬áKai Wright, Dashaun Williams , Ash Hammond, Rudy “Elegost” Rosado, Charlotte Park, Juan Gabriel Padilla, Cynthia Ruiz, Jesus Montelongo

Seven LGBT youth leaders from Texas, New York and Massachusetts spoke poignantly and powerfully about the issues that affect their communities. Moderated by noted social critic and political commentator Kai Wright, the panel discussed at length the importance of empowering LGBT youth of color with the skills to be leaders in their communities; addressed the crisis of homelessness among LGBT youth; and offered projections of where they wanted to see the LGBT movement in 10 years.

The panel presented a series of recommendations on how to move forward the work with LGBT youth of color. The recommendations were a result of a groundbreaking study of 62 LGBT organizations across the country done by FIERCE. Among these recommendations, they urged LGBT organizations to empower LGBT youth of color leaders so they can organize themselves and address their issues, create more spaces for LGBT youth of color to organize and strategize, have safety from violence and access to housing and safe public spaces. Finally, they called on progressive organizations to prioritize work with youth of color and to continue to organize around racial and economic issues.

Photos by Beck Starr.

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