Eric Juszyk, chief administrator of the Gay Nebraska Youth Network, guest blogs a rundown of the great work his group is doing in Omaha. Follow Eric on Twitter @ericjuszyk.
Growing up as LGBTQ in the Midwest can be difficult, especially in conservative states like Nebraska. The youth in rural and agricultural communities are often isolated and have few legitimate resources for forming new friendships and interacting with the larger LGBTQ community.
In May of 2010 I learned about the Gay Nebraska Youth Network when the founder, Drew Heckman, returned to Omaha after his freshman year at Brown University. Drew was astounded at the vibrant community in Providence and sought to create an environment back in his home state where youth can interact with each other in a safe and positive manner.
The Gay Nebraska Youth Network was formed as a youth-focused, peer-led organization that seeks to connect high school and college LGBTQ students statewide with social activities, opportunities to form new relationships, and connections to resources. A secret Facebook page is used to promote social interaction and the sharing of relevant issues while protecting the identity of its members and ideas while a public page is used to publicize our organization to the larger straight and ally communities. Additionally we match the virtual interactions with real life social events held at a variety of locations across the state.
Some members from the Queer Nebraska Youth Networks
at Nebraska AIDS Project’s Condom Fashion Show,
with the dress and accessories we designed!
- Bisexual Resource Center: international organization providing education about and support for bisexual and progressive issues
- Campus Pride: helps develop necessary resources, programs and services to support LGBT and ally students on college campuses across the United States.
- Children of Lesbians & Gays Everywhere: a national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parent/s
- Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN): strives to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression
- Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD): For over 25 years, GLAAD has worked with news, entertainment and social media to bring culture-changing stories of LGBT people into millions of homes and workplaces every day
- Gender Spectrum: provides an array of services designed to help families, schools, professionals, and organizations understand and address concepts of gender identity and gender expression
- GLBT Historical Society: Founded in 1985, the society is recognized internationally as a leader in the field of GLBT public history
- GLBTQ Online High School: Online high school specifically for GLBTQ students
- Human Rights Campaign: advocates on the behalf go GLBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions, etc
- International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, And Intersex Association (ILGA): national movement of children, youth, and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer (LGBTQ) parent/s
- It Gets Better Project: created to show young LGBT people the levels of happiness, potential, and positivity their lives will reach – if they can just get through their teen years
- National Center for LGBT Health: committed to improving the health and well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals
- National Center for Transgender Equality: a 501(c)3 social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment
- Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG): a national non-profit organization with over 200,000 members and supporters and over 350 affiliates in the United States
- QuitDay.org: preventing smoking in the LGBT community
- The Trans Youth Equality Foundation is a national foundation that provides education, advocacy and support for transgender and gender non-conforming children and youth and their families. In addition to sharing resources, the foundation holds youth retreats and support groups in New England.
- The Trevor Project: a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide hotline for gay/questioning youth
- TransActive: Support and educational website serving trans youth and their families