Queer Youth Leadership Award – Awardees:
Watsonville High School Student
Anthony Flores is a senior at Watsonville High School and an activist for the rights of both the LGBTQ and mental health communities. Anthony began his role in activism as an eight grader at Alianza Charter School where he helped lay the foundation for the school’s GSA club. Anthony is passionate about educating others about mental health and ending the stigma of mental illness. At Watsonville High, Anthony co-created the school’s Wellness Center to provide students a safe place to access resources. Anthony painted the room during winter break, and created a brochure on tips for self control. Anthony is an active participant of Pride Days, attends rallies, and educates students and staff about LGBTQ rights. Anthony is described as someone who embodies all of the characteristics of an empathetic leader.
Cypress High School Student
Caleb Lennon is an activist and GSA president at Cypress Charter High School. Caleb’s activism for the LGBTQ community took off in middle school when he founded Shoreline Middle School’s GSA. In high school, Caleb has worked with Live Oak School District to guide policies that support diversity and inclusion at schools and has educated staff on best practices for supporting trans students. President of his school’s GSA, Caleb is also a mentor to younger trans youth and supports their transition to high school and their growth in their identities. To provide community for students in independent study and other non-traditional programs, Caleb is working to form an Alternative Education GSA. Caleb is always willing to educate and guide teachers in creating safe classrooms for LGBTQ+ students.
CAMILA SNYDER-ALANIZ & MATTHEW DOMENICHELLI
Santa Cruz High School Students
Camila Snyder-Alaniz and Matthew Domenichelli are co-presidents of Santa Cruz High School Rainbow Alliance Club and are credited with helping the club regain momentum. This dynamic pair lift each other up and work in harmony to raise visibility of their club. Camila is described as poised and honest, and Matthew as gentle and thoughtful. Together they have spoken on several panels for educators, assisted in coordinating a panel of speakers for National Coming Out day, and hosted a Queer Movie Night for all county GSAs. In addition to this work for the LGBTQ+ community, Matt and Camila also excel in their academics and are in theater. When not leading Rainbow Alliance, Camila and Matthew can often be found providing academic or emotional support to their peers. semi-finals.
Delta Charter High School Student
Jeydon Hernandez-Cordero is a member of the Queer and Trans Youth Council of Santa Cruz County and a leader in his QSA at Delta School. As a council member, Jeydon conducted research and helped create and present an interactive training for school staff on the laws that protect LGBTQ+ youth. Jeydon has consistently attended every conference, summit, and event his QSA has offered despite lack of transportation. Jeydon is resilient and seeks resources to help him show up, not just physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. In addition to his activism, Jeydon excels academically, earning As in his high school and college classes. Jeydon plans to be an OB/GYN to provide better support to the queer and trans community around reproductive healthcare.
Queer Youth Leadership Award – Nominees:
New Brighton Middle School Student
Abby Sotelo is an 8th grader at New Brighton Middle School and the vice president of her school’s QSA. Abby first attended New Brighton’s QSA as a 7th grader. While she attended consistently that year, she was described as shy and did not speak up during club meetings. Now, as an 8th grader, Abby has found her voice. She advocated for holding elections for club leadership positions and decided to run for vice president. She gave a wonderful campaign speech and proved she is no longer afraid to speak her mind. As QSA vice president, Abby organizes weekly activities and has taken on responsibilities such as directing the large QSA group each week. Abby has demonstrated her growth as a confident leader.
GUILLERMO MARES CERVANTES
Watsonville High School Student
Guillermo Mares Cervantes is the vice president of Watsonville High School’s SAGA club and is the school’s 2020 Salutatorian. As vice president, Guillermo leads and co-leads SAGA meetings in an equitable and caring way. Guillermo helps create a full agenda for every meeting, and always makes sure all members of the club feel heard and supported. Guillermo helped plan the Fall 2019 Queer, Trans, and Allied Student Summit at Watsonville High School where he also gave a speech on stage. Recently, Guillermo helped create a training for Watsonville teachers that takes an intersectional approach to support teachers with inclusivity and sensitivity of LGBTQIA+ students. In addition to his achievements with SAGA, Guillermo is also described as an outstanding student whose hard work earned him Class of 2020 Salutatorian.
Soquel High School Student
Linus Harless is the president of Soquel High School’s Queer Straight Alliance and Feminist Club, as well as a member of the school’s varsity band, choir, and theater. As QSA president, Linus collaborated with Soquel’s ASB to celebrate National Coming Out Day during the school’s Homecoming celebrations. The event included the rainbow door and a rainbow balloon toss, as well as the first ever QSA Homecoming float. As QSA president, Linus has also planned pizza and movie nights and the club’s first annual Queer Prom. Linus has demonstrated maturity as they have worked through challenges and obstacles in their life, including ADHD, anxiety, and depression, and now leads and succeeds in several contexts. Linus is described as bringing vision, clarity, and purpose to their endeavors as a leader.
Sequoia Junior High School Student
Nick Perry is a student at Sequoia Junior High School and a leader on the Sequoia Schools campus. Through mentorship and collaboration with Sequoia Schools staff, Nick took initiative to start a GSA on Sequoia’s campus. Nick came up with the GSA’s philosophy and vision and shared it with adults on campus who worked to make it a reality. Now, with twelve students in attendance, Nick collaborates with staff to plan topics of discussion for GSA meetings, such as learning about important historical figures like Harvey Milk, and holding vulnerable discussions about gender identity. Despite being one of the youngest members of the GSA, Nick has been a role model for everyone at Sequoia, his peers; younger and older, and even adults on campus.
REYES MORALES WARNE
Student, Harbor High School
Reyes Morales Warne is a student at San Lorenzo Valley High School who helped put on the Fall 2019 Queer and Trans Student Summit at Watsonville High. Reyes is described as someone well versed in leadership skills and eloquent and outspoken when it comes to the needs of their community. Reyes worked with the Summit coordinator to help organize the event, composed the theme “Queer Youth Take Over the World” and co-wrote a paragraph for the Safe Schools Project website on why the theme was important. Reyes also helped designate the time slots and locations for the workshops, and on the day of the Summit, volunteered to work as a greeter for the entire event. Reyes has made an everlasting and positive impact on the Santa Cruz County queer community.
New Brighton Middle School Student
Tabitha Humble is an eighth grade student at New Brighton Middle School and president of her school’s QSA. Tabitha advocated for holding elections for club leadership positions and helped plan the campaign process, and she has taken on her leadership role with great enthusiasm. Tabitha has attended multiple YES Conferences and attends weekly planning meetings with her club’s advisor to plan QSA activities, such as the Gender Unicorn, queer music through the ages, and more. Tabitha also took on the task of rewriting the QSA mission statement. Tabitha is described as having a commanding presence and as someone who will not back down from challenges. In addition to her work with the school’s QSA, Tabitha is also committed to the performing arts and her academics.