The It Gets Better Project, through It Gets Better EDU, is proud to present Youth Voices – Class of ’21, our official youth ambassador group for the 2020-2021 school year. These exceptional young people have partnered with our organization to offer their unique stories and words of advice to other LGBTQ+ youth around the globe. They are students, artists, and activists who are working to change their communities for the better and who have empowering insights to lend to their LGBTQ+ peers.
Throughout the year, these Youth Voices will have a unique opportunity to:
- Participate in the It Gets Better Project’s ongoing storytelling efforts – across its social media channels, in email newsletters, during key efforts like Pride 2021, and so much more.
- Contribute to strategic planning efforts that help craft future It Gets Better EDU and other organizational programming that directly engage and involve LGBTQ+ youth.
- Help the It Gets Better Project identify new opportunities to engage its target audience (LGBTQ+ youth ages 13-18), and assist in incorporating the support of the organization’s current volunteers, staff and board of directors, donors, foundational partners, corporate sponsors, and more in those efforts.
- Develop experience, skills, and relationships that will shape their development as future leaders of the LGBTQ+ movement and as powerful advocates for social justice.
Continue scrolling to learn more about each of this year’s Youth Voices, and please contact Justin Tindall, Director of Education and Global Programming, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to support the program, are interested in applying next year, or if you have any questions.
- Age: 17
- Pronouns: They/Them
- Location: Near Mobile, AL
- Social Handle: @hammy (TikTok), @nuwlow (Instagram)
Hammy Hamilton is a nonbinary content creator, filmmaker and advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. After gaining a following on TikTok, Hamilton helped organize @Gayburgerofficial, an internet collective for queer young people by queer young people. Their art, comedy and activism is making a difference around the world by utilizing the power of social media.
Hammy’s personal experience with social media has been nothing but positive and eye opening. As an African American TikToker, they’ve been able to meet so many amazing people from all over the world and make them laugh. In the future, Hammy hopes to be a forensic pathologist and to be the representation for kids they wish they’d had growing up.
- Age: 16
- Pronouns: She/Her
- Location: Near Dallas, TX
- Social Handle: @bella.jimenezzz (Instagram)
Isabella Jimenez is a recently turned 16 year old from Texas. Since coming out as bisexual to her incredibly supporting family in seventh grade, Isabella has been a large activist for LGBTQ+ representation in any and all media. Her passions are guitar, bringing light to the taboo, and being a positive and bubbly influence to those around her. After traveling with her robotics team to California and advancing to world with the First Lego League, she retired from the Incredibots at the age of 14, but still wants to keep the spark of coding alive. She is incredibly gifted at performing and public speaking and often quotes that she “is meant for the people”.
As a proud Latina, Isabella fights for representation for people that look like her, and remains fierce in her stand to do so, remaining true to her life motto, “Give me Latina Disney princesses or give me death.” Passionate in everything under the sun, Isabella’s greatest goal is to create a platform where others can see themselves accepted in the media and thrive, just like how she wanted to when she was younger.
- Age: 16
- Pronouns: He/Him
- Location: Near Salt Lake City, UT
- Social Handle: @thedeininger (Instagram and TikTok)
Jace Deininger is both a homebody science nerd and a student leader and activist. After coming out as trans and gay at age 14, Jace dove into social activism (especially LGBTQ+ youth visibility and empowerment) at his school and in his community in Utah. He’s in his second year with his high school GSA, serving as the club’s gender and sexuality educator. He’s participated in workshops for faculty, round table community discussions on diversity and pride events around Utah (and in New Orleans and Paris!). An honor student, he loves nature, camping, skiing, and hiking as many mountains as humanly possible, as well as listening to classic rock and watching movies from the 80s.
Jace envisions a world where LGBTQ+ youth and adults feel as safe, seen and celebrated as anyone else, all the time. And he is going to make that happen. He also is planning a future involving many, many years of college, a few degrees, a career as a science teacher and summer camp counselor, and an old, New England-style house with a husband, kids, and dogs.
- Age: 16
- Pronouns: She/Her
- Location: Near Washington, D.C.
- Social Handle: @_uma.fox (Instagram)
Uma Fox is a human rights activist. After noticing the absence of LGBTQ+ representation in educational and policy spaces, she founded MoCo Pride, a nonprofit dedicated to giving LGBTQ+ students a voice in Maryland’s political and educational systems. The organization lobbied successfully for the creation of the United States’ first standardized LGBTQ+ studies class for high schoolers. Uma is now a student writer for the course’s curriculum. She has also worked to bring over 50 students to the Maryland State House to lobby their legislators for various student rights, including menstrual equity, transgender student protections, and increased educational funding.
As a biracial South-Asian American, Uma cares deeply about global human rights and intersectional LGBTQ+ education. Uma is passionate about fighting for international LGBTQ+ protections and making activism inclusive of the populations it impacts. She is a 2020-2022 United World College Davis Scholar, a program that brings together international student leaders in the name of dialogue, peace education, and advocacy. In the future, Uma hopes to fight for LGBTQ+, indigenous, and ethnic justice as a human rights lawyer. She is excited to be part of the It Gets Better Project’s Youth Voices.
- Age: 17
- Pronouns: He/Him
- Location: Near Baltimore, MD
- Social Handle: @zachkoung (Instagram and Twitter)
Zach is an unapologetically politically involved rising high school senior. He continually advocates and works to pave a path for justice that includes all people. At school, he is involved with his Student Government Association, the Future Business Leaders of America CTSO, and various honor societies. Zach was recently elected as the Howard County Student Member of the Board of Education to serve nearly 60,000 students in his county and build an inclusive community for all. In the future, Zach wants to attend College for a Political Science degree and serve in public office.
To learn more about the work being done through It Gets Better EDU, visit itgetsbetter.org/EDU.