It’s been a spirited and busy Pride month at JCCA, and as June draws to a close we’re taking a moment to look back on everything it held.

First, our LEAP division held a Pride event for young people in JCCA’s Foster Home Services programs, featuring karaoke, raffles, tie-dye, and trivia.

The LEAP Pride event also had an art activity where participants could design their own Pride flag.

JCCA staff gather at the LEAP Pride event. 

JCCA staff psychologist, Leah Hallow, poses with a rainbow unicorn during the campus Pride celebration. Hallow also played a major part in planning the event. 

Yarelis A. of PCS cottage 6 in front of a sparking Pride flag. 

Members of The LOFT LGBTQ+ Community Center stand with campus resident, Shawn S. The LOFT was a joyous addition to the campus Pride festivities.

Next was our annual Pleasantville campus Pride Parade, which was an absolute blast.  Once again it was covered by News 12 Westchester and their affiliates across the region.

The parade, for which campus residents design their own floats (aka vans), has become a beloved and affirming tradition. In the words of Leah Hallow, JCCA staff psychologist who founded the event, “Our goal here on campus is to provide a safe space for all of our youth, no matter what their identity is, and to celebrate them and also those who are our allies and who support them.”

In honor of Pride, JCCA Youth Coach Cearia Scipio sat down with BronxNet Community Television to discuss the needs of LGBTQIA+ youth in foster care. A study in 2019 found 30% of young people in foster care identify as LGBTQ+ and 5% as transgender. “[These youth] need compassion, acceptance, and freedom––freedom to dress how they want to dress and love who they want to love,” Cearia reiterated, drawing on her own lived experience in foster care. 

JCCA CEO Ron Richter was named to City&State’s #Pride100 list , a celebration NYC’s LGBTQ leaders.

Ron also kicked off a staff panel discussion by wishing all a happy Pride. He admitted that he was still getting used to such a greeting. “I came of age at a time when happiness was not associated with this part of who I am,” he noted. “I was called a lot of names. I was othered for reasons I didn’t entirely understand. I think I went into this line of work because I wanted to help relieve loneliness and humiliation in all their forms.”

The panel, called “In Conversation with JCCA Pride: Focusing on ‘Our Youth’” was an engaging and candid discussion about both the empowering and traumatic aspects of growing up with gender and sexual identities that are seen as “other” or marginal, and how these experiences can be leveraged to better serve queer and questioning clients.

JCCA Pride, our LGBTQIA+ leadership team, also led a small contingent at the annual Brooklyn Pride Parade.