“Young people could be respected partners in building community and social justice advocacy,” said Jason Landau Goodman, founding executive director of the Pennsylvania Student Equality Coalition (PSEC). PSEC organizes LGBTQ youth to be successful community advocates and advances LGBTQ youth issues in government.
PSEC is the first entirely youth-led statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization in the country, and their organizing work so far has been strategic and effective. Last year, after the Youth Action Conference that PSEC organized each year since 2011, the group helped to secure an ordinance in Pittsburgh prohibiting discrimination against trans people.
In Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania, PSEC has focused on changing school district discrimination policies to specifically include protections for LGBTQ students. PSEC is advocating for the PA Safe School Act, an anti-bullying law that would help LGBTQ youth who are targeted for bullying and violence in schools.
Beyond its extensive policy work, PSEC aims to build community among LGBTQ youth. “Through this work we are also helping to save each other,” said Goodman. “Young LGBTQ people are often in extreme situations, and when we band together, the impact is deeply empowering and lifelong.”
PSEC is now establishing permanent headquarters in Harrisburg thanks to a $100,000 Queer Youth Fund grant that the group was awarded in 2014, shortly after receiving a $2,000 Future Fund grant from Bread & Roses.