June is teeming with excitement. Summer is around the corner. We are days from high school graduations at PCS, Edenwald, Liberation, and throughout the City.  Many are cheering young people on at “moving up” ceremonies. We are still basking in the afterglow of our gala. To top it all off, it’s Pride month—and just yesterday, the Campus Pride Parade was featured on News12!

In my lifetime, we’ve seen dramatic advances in civil rights and acceptance for individuals who identify as LGBTQIA, including the legalization of same-sex marriage and the Bostock decision affirming the protection of transgender Americans under the Civil Rights Act. By getting married and becoming a dad, I enjoy a fulfilling family life that even twenty years ago would not have been possible.

While there is much to celebrate, much work remains to be done. Young people who identify as LGBTQIA are overrepresented in child welfare––a stark fact that speaks to the difficult path so many queer youth have to navigate. On the national level, we continue to see the identities of queer and especially trans kids of color needlessly politicized and subjected to culture wars. These young folks are denigrated instead of championed for their individuality. Too often they are disdained instead of affirmed.

Our efforts at best serving young people who identify as LGBTQIA are must be stronger now as ever. We should sharpen our awareness as therapists, counselors, and coaches. We should work with foster parents and families to increase understanding about people who identify as LGBTQIA and encourage others to embrace them.  We must advocate for adoption and foster care policies and practices that are non-discriminatory. The words of a young trans student from Liberation at our gala last month echo in my thoughts as a reminder of the impact that open and accepting mentors can make. “Thank you for helping me come out proudly to my mother,” Seven said in front of the packed ballroom. “JCCA is a safe haven. Now, I know my future is bright and I have people supporting me every step of the way.”

Thank you to all at JCCA for the love and understanding you offer our gay, trans, gender non-conforming, and questioning youth. Our enduring hope is that they grow older in a world that is welcoming and full of possibility.

Happy Pride!