Dr. Sue Maxam's Everyday Activism Challenge

Dr. Sue Maxam’s Everyday Activism Challenge

For her #EverydayActivismChallenge this year, Sue Maxam (Pace’s Assistant Vice President of Undergraduate Education) is promoting social justice and environmental activism among students every day by both educating students on the importance of such activism and providing them with the support and tools to take action. You can read her intro post here, and read on below to see how she’s supporting LGBTQA student activism this week (and beyond)!

Education and activism regarding the rights of the LGBTQA community has always been high on my social justice advocacy list as there is simply too much discrimination, misinformation, mistreatment and hatred in the world against the members of this community.

The Human Rights Campaign, America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer equality, reports these disheartening, yet activism-inducing stats:

Moreover, Dosomething.org cites these alarming facts:

  • 42% of people who are LGBT report living in an unwelcoming environment
  • 80% of gay and lesbian youth report severe social isolation

Stonewall goes on to say that:

  • Nearly half (48%) of trans people under 26 said they had attempted suicide, and 30% said they had done so in the past year, while 59% said they had at least considered doing so.
  • One in five LGBT people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in the last 12 months.
  • Nearly half (42%) of trans people are not living permanently in their preferred gender role stated they are prevented from doing so because they fear it might threaten their employment status.
  • More than four in five trans young people have self-harmed, as have three in five lesbian, gay and bi young people who aren’t trans

Finally, Nobullying.com reports that:

  • 50% experience a negative environment at home if they tell their parents about their sexual orientation.
  • 26% are forced out of their homes.
  • Up to 50% of the youth that are on the streets living without a home are LGBT youth, who must live on the streets because of their sexual orientation or gender identification.

On a more personal, yet less quantifiable level, my son, who lives in Alaska, volunteers at a homeless shelter and said that a disproportionate number are LGBTQ youth who have either been thrown out of their homes or have experienced some other horrible hardship as a result of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

These data clearly demonstrate the need to advocate for education and activism. To that end, my husband (assistant Principal of Croton Harmon HS), and I have decided to create a “Pace Pride” award for high school students who have “demonstrated activism and advocacy in support of the LGBTQA community, regardless of personal identity.” We will pilot the award this year with Croton Harmon HS and the hopefully expand it next year to other high schools around the region!  It will be given out to a rising senior at the school’s annual award ceremony whether or not they intend to come to Pace (though certainly we would love it if they did, as Pace is an incredibly inclusive community!). The winner will receive a collection of books on student activism. This award has been embraced by Pace’s Dean for Students and our LGBTQA/Social Justice Centers. Stay tuned in another few weeks for information on the inaugural winner of this award!

It’s not too late to take on your own #EverydayActivismChallenge! Learn more here, and take the pledge at http://bit.ly/BETHECHANGE18!