The mission of the Queer Youth Leadership Awards is to improve the lives of LGBTIQ youth by increasing the positive awareness of queer youth leadership, and increasing safe and welcoming environments in home, school, and community.
There are three categories of awards honoring today’s queer youth leaders and their allies:
1. The Queer Youth Leadership Award
2. The Ally to Queer Youth Award
3. The Organizational Ally to Queer Youth Award
History of the QYLA
In April of 1998, Santa Cruz County enjoyed the first Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth Award Ceremony and Banquet. The event was primarily produced by the grass roots leadership of a core team of volunteers solicited from the local Queer Youth Task Force and the wider community. The Youth Awards idea was born out of the Task Force’s subcommittee to raise the visibility of Queer youth. The awards and banquet event was seen as a way to significantly increase the awareness of Queer youth in our community.
The Task Force, also known as the Queer Youth Task Force of Santa Cruz County, has been meeting for nearly 19 years with one overarching mission: “To improve the quality of life for all Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered Youth in Santa Cruz County, as well as children and siblings raised in homes where LGBTIQ people live.
The Task Force invites the community to help produce the 18th Annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards, and to help highlight this year’s queer youth leaders and their allies.
The Queer Youth Leadership Awards recognizes queer youth across Santa Cruz County for being leaders within their community. Being a leader encompasses many attributes and spans across all disciplines and activities. If you know an out LGBTIQ youth who is making a difference by standing out, being proud and being true to themselves, nominate them for a Queer Youth Leadership Awards. We are looking for youth who inspire, be they into anything including sports, academics, activism, art and performance.
QYLA Ceremony and Banquet: The high visibility event is held every spring, since 1998, at a rotating location around Santa Cruz County – from the Mello Center in Watsonville to Scotts Valley High School. This year’s event is scheduled for May 13th, 2017 at Pajaro Valley High School in Watsonville. Attendee’s include elected officials, religious & civic leaders to queer youth and their families. Filmed and aired on Community TV.
The Queer Youth Leadership Award is designed to honor the leadership of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Intersexed young people in our community. The Queer Youth Leadership Award is given annually to queer youth who are 12 to 18 years of age to acknowledge their accomplishments and the contributions they have made to their communities, whether this be in their homes, schools, religious institutions, athletic or academic teams, or other social groups. These youth are leaders of today who show a promise for the future. They are out and have made a difference by overcoming obstacles in their own lives, or by working on projects that have benefited their community.
Four awardees will receive a cash award of $250, as well as the opportunity to designate a queer youth–friendly project or nonprofit organization in their community to receive a $500 donation.
The Ally to Queer Youth Award is a non-monetary award designed to honor an ally of any age who has made significant contributions to improving the lives of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Intersexed youth and youth who have GLBTI family members. An Ally is an individual who actively works to create supportive or safe spaces for queer youth. Examples include creating support groups, increasing visibility of queer youth, inviting queer speakers, or countering queer oppression by stopping anti-queer slurs.
The Organizational Ally to Queer Youth Award is a non-monetary award presented to one organization that has made significant contributions to improving the lives of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, or Intersexed youth. This organization must serve Queer Youth in Santa Cruz County, and must show leadership in this area.