Here’s five of our favourite young activists who are making a difference.
Most of what you see on mainstream news might be leading you to believe that the world is becoming a worse and worse place to live in — for LGBTQ+ folk and in general. With discriminatory government making headlines everywhere — I’m looking at you, Trump — it can be difficult to see any progress being made towards a brighter future for our communities.
But it will hopefully brighten your day to realise how many young activists there are out there, fighting for a more inclusive society and future for the rest of us. Here are just a handful of those activists and the progress they’ve made so far in supporting the cause.
#1 Rowan Blanchard
I believe in my generation. I believe in girls. I believe in women. I believe in people of color. I believe in LGBTQ+ community. I believe. pic.twitter.com/dNsoZosV5n
— Rowan Blanchard (@RowanBlanchard) November 11, 2016
This former Disney star, at only 16 years old, has become an amazing example of using your own privilege to help others. Rowan came out as queer when she was 14 years old, and has since grown increasingly passionate about activism of all sorts.
She can often be seen on Twitter, Instagram and other social media platforms, using her influential power to bring awareness to causes such as ending violence against trans* women, recognition of LGBTQ+ homelessness, as well as many other issues regarding sexuality, gender, race and ableism.
At such a young age, Rowan is as politically active as she can be, encouraging others — complete with step by step instructions — to call their state senators and representatives and demand changes to be made, such as advocating against an anti-trans bathroom bill.
Her efforts have inspired young teens and adults alike across the world to fight for their rights in any way possible, even when you’re too young to legally vote. Badass.
#2 Grace Dolan-Sandrino
I live by this quote from Fannie Lou Hamer. I hope you all do too. ✊???? https://t.co/QqjQFdqr0n
— Grace (@graceadvocates) January 15, 2018
While not as known to the general public, Grace Dolan-Sandrino has already taken great strides to provide a voice and change for LGBTQ+ teenagers and young people of color at only 17 years old.
She’s worked as a White House Ambassador under the Obama Administration, and worked to co-found the Gender and Orientation Alliance at her previously conservative high school. Taking great pride in being both a transgender girl and an Afro-Latina, Grace has written numerous articles for publications such as Teen Vogue, surrounding her marginalized identities and taking up activism as a result of them.
Perhaps one of her most impressive moments was her participation in helping organize a protest against a then recently elected Donald Trump. Grace and her classmates marched out of their classrooms to voice their disapproval of Trump’s homophobic, sexist and racist views being brought into office.
#3 Zoey Luna
For even more transgender youth representation, we have Zoey Luna. You might recognize her name from the documentary Raising Zoey, which incited a wave of awareness surrounding transgender children and how we can help support them.
At the time, Zoey was only a tween, but she’s grown up a bit since then. For instance, she participated in a second documentary, filming her quinceañera. Why is this relevant? Because she decided to spend that special day of hers with several other older, transgender Latinas who never got a chance to have their quinceañera. This girl has some serious heart!
Her story has been an inspiration for many, and has helped transgender teens worldwide. Zoey has since expressed a desire to use her artistic talents to create film, scripts and videos, so as to continue to contribute to the representation of marginalized identities like hers, and add another voice to the LGBTQ+ community.
#4 Kian Tortorello-Allen
Kian Tortorello-Allen is a 17 year old trans* high school student with passions and goals centering around two things: classical music and activism. He forms one part of GLSEN’s national student council and his school’s GSA, which has gradually led him to further become an advocate for LGBTQ+ issues.
His efforts to strive for representation of trans* individuals drove him to the opportunity of becoming a model and representative for the clothing company Hollister, as part of their campaign in order to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth.
Kian was also one of the co-founders of Just Lgbt Stuff, an Instagram page promoting and discussing LGBTQ+ rights, that has since gained over 150,000 followers. His presence on social media has been a grand factor of his activism on a daily basis, and we couldn’t be more on board!
#5 Amandla Stenberg
You may know them from having acted in movies like The Hunger Games and Everything, Everything. But what you might not know is that Amandla Stenberg has come out to the public eye, embracing their identity as an intersectional feminist, social activist and a non-binary bisexual.
Amandla has spoken out in the past against issues like cultural appropriation and media bias against women and people of color. But what’s incredibly inspiring is seeing how they, at 19 years old, are continuously developing themselves unashamedly as an LGBTQ+ rights spokesperson.
They’re advocating for an elimination of strict gender roles and speak out against the double standards that stunt gender expression. They once wrote, “Guys aren’t allowed to express femininity; they have to always appear masculine. And that’s bullshit.”
That’s a movement we can certainly get behind!