[caption id="attachment_3917" align="alignright" width="150"] Alex and Leah, Garden State Equality’s new Youth Caucus Co-Chairs.[/caption] (Montclair, NJ) Garden State Equality is proud to announce our new Youth Caucus Co-Chairs for the 2014-2015 school year, Alex Lasher and Leah Greenhaus. They join GSE as Youth Caucus Co-Chairs, assisting in leading LGBTQA youth advocacy and supporting local chapters. The GSE Youth Caucus is our award-wining statewide youth leadership program that ...
Posted by Garden State Equality on September 15, 2014
Federal Appeals Court Upholds New Jersey Law Prohibiting Conversion Therapy for Minors Court Rejects Anti-LGBT Groups’ Constitutional Challenges to Law From the National Center for Lesbian Rights (Trenton, NJ, September 11, 2014)—Today, a panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit unanimously upheld a 2013 New Jersey law prohibiting licensed therapists from attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender expression or identity of patients under 18 years old. ...
Posted by Garden State Equality on September 11, 2014
Greetings! My name is Hannah Isabelle Deckard and I am a 2014 graduate of Chatham High School in Chatham New Jersey. This past school year I was Garden State Equality Youth Caucus Co-Chair. As my time in that position comes to a close, I want to talk about what GSE’s Youth Caucus means to me, and why youth caucus should be part of your school year.
It was the middle of my junior year. I had just begun coming out of my social anxiety shell and participating in extracurricular activities. Being someone who was questioning feelings about their gender and sexuality, I joined our local school Gay Straight Alliance. As I built a friendship with the club president at my school, she invited me to various LGBTQA events in the community. One of these events was a Youth Caucus meeting at the Garden State Equality office in Montclair. That was where I found my voice.
The Garden State Equality Youth Caucus is an award-winning youth-led and adult-supported empowerment program. GSE’s Youth Caucus holds monthly meetings across the state that provide students with a safe space to talk about issues such as bullying, advocacy and LGBTQA issues. The Youth Caucus also works with youth on ways to take action. GSE collaborates with other community agencies to spread awareness on anti-bullying policies and other youth LGBTQ issues.
I anxiously attended my first GSE Youth Caucus meeting during my junior year and soon began connecting with other members. Over the course of my first year with GSE Youth Caucus, I met new friends, learned about youth empowerment, student leadership, advocacy, and how to be an Upstander—as opposed to a bystander—against bullying. I also learned to tell about my own experiences, and used these new skills to speak in front of legislatures, committees and community members. In a time where I was recovering from nasty bouts of depression, I truly felt fulfilled. I felt good. I felt safe.
Hooked by activism, I started volunteering at the GSE office regularly. It was pretty amazing. I felt like I was a part of something, and the work I did had an effect on the community around me. When I was the GSE Youth Caucus Co-Chair during my senior year, it really made a lasting impact on me. I represented GSE at conferences. I met other LGBTQA youth from around the state at other GSE Youth Caucus chapter meetings and events. With GSE, I helped organize the Week of Respect in my community, a Break the Silence open mic, and even helped organize Gay-Straight Alliance events and support outreach for all students.
GSE Youth Caucus allows youth of all backgrounds a safe, open place to be who they are. A place open to anyone no matter what their gender expression or sexuality may be. A place without judgment or scorn. A place where you can just be yourself. A place like that is pretty hard to come by. Especially when you’re a kid.
As we head back to school, I know that our award winning youth caucus will be there for all youth ages 13-21 just as it was for me. I will continue to support GSE as I enter into my college years and beyond, and am thankful that GSE was there as a resource.
Posted by Garden State Equality on September 3, 2014