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You Could Be GLSEN’s 2016 Student Advocate of the Year

You Could Be GLSEN’s 2016 Student Advocate of the Year

Do you know an incredible LGBTQ student activist?

On Monday, GLSEN—the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network—opened nominations for its 2016 Student Advocate of the Year. The organization is looking for students age 13 or older who are currently enrolled in middle or high school who uphold GLSEN’s “ideals of respect, safety, and inclusion for all students regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.”

While selecting just one Student Advocate of the Year is a daunting task, students who lead LGBTQ youth initiatives in their schools, seek out opportunities to deepen their knowledge of the experiences of LGBTQ students, honor diversity and peer-to-peer collaboration in their work, and model compassion, courage, and commitment will be strongly considered.

In 2015, Georgia teenager Mars Hallman won the title. The 16-year-old spoke about their experience at school in front of stars like Julia Roberts, Jessica Biel, Jim Parsons, and Justin Timberlake, saying, "I knew I wasn’t a girl or a boy, and that’s scary. Teachers would separate us into boys and girls for everything, from our reading assignments to frog dissections."

When Hallman realized they would have to forge their own path if they wanted a more inclusive school environment, they used GLSEN resources to start a GSA at school, despite religious leaders in the community reacting strongly.

The 2016 Student Advocate of the Year will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Los Angeles, where they’ll be recognized for their achievements, and have a similar platform to speak about their experiences at the GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angles. They’ll also share the stage without YouTube star Connor Franta.

If you know an incredible LGBTQ student advocate who should be nominated for the title, you can fill out this form before September 9th. The winner will be notified by September 23rd.

In the meantime, check out Mars Hallman’s clever, heartfelt speech from the 2015 GLSEN Respect Awards in Los Angeles.

(RELATED: These Student Activists from GLSEN’s Award-Winning GSA Are Changing Their World)

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Cassie Sheets