My name is Alex Sennello, and I’m from the Chicago area. That’s my mother and I on a couch in the White House with the presidential seal.
I was there last week for President Obama’s LGBTQ Pride Month Reception for my work with GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, at the 2012 Safe Schools Advocacy Summit. While at the summit in Washington, often referred to as SASS by its attendees, I learned skills that I can use to be a political advocate for safe schools legislation like the Safe Schools Improvement Act, a bill that would work to address bullying from the federal level, or the Student Non Discrimination Act, which seeks to give the same protections that prevent discrimination based on sex and race in school to sexual orientation and gender identity.
My work isn’t limited to the national level; at home, I work as a community journalist reporting on queer youth issues, I’m leadership for my school’s QSA, and I work to help create safer schools in my state with the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.
As queer youth, working for equality and fighting for the right to exist are things I have become quite accustomed to. These issues also hit home for my mother, both as a parent of queer daughter, but also as a physician who serves a community where three young people from the same school — two of whom identified within the queer community — took their own lives within a span of eight weeks.
The briefing I attended on LGBTQ youth health and safety was informative and, as you may imagine, the reception was magical. Each person you met seemed to have a cooler story than the last.
Photos by Alex Sennello:
2. Ann Foster and Dena Partain of the US Navy who were responsible for starting the first official naval social organization for queer sailors known as GLASS, or Gay Lesbian and Supporting Sailors.
3. Katy Butler from Ann Arbor, Michigan was responsible for starting the petition on Change.org to change the rating from the movie Bully from R to PG-13 so it could be shown in classrooms across the nation.