Each year, local and state-wide politicians come out to show their support for the Queer Youth Leadership Awards. These politicians recognize that the QYLA is a special event that brings together families and communities. At the QYLA, the immense work that queer youth and their allies are doing to make our county safer and more welcoming for everyone is honored. Below are some videos from speeches at previous events.
QYLA 2021 Welcome from two local LGBTQIA+ Mayors – City of Santa Cruz Mayor Donna Meyers and City of Watsonville Mayor Jimmy Dutra
Welcome from Mayor Donna Meyers, City of Santa Cruz
I am excited as an elected LGBTQIA+ person to attend and celebrate the youth to be honored at the Queer Your Leadership Awards this year. Our LGBTQIA+ community had huge successes in the 2020 elections, and it is especially important for our youth to see a role for their leadership in their broader communities. We all have a role in continuing to build towards greater LGBTQIA+ representation for all elected offices – on our school boards, on our fire district boards, on our city councils and in state and federal offices. This is the beginning of bringing our voices to the table, our learned experiences, and our love to making policy that centers on equity, nonviolence and anti-discrimination. Let your inner leader see a role for yourself in a better and more equitable future. I celebrate all the youth and their families and look forward to celebrating on May 8th with you all. You are our future and I can’t wait to meet you!!
Welcome from Mayor Jimmy Dutra, City of Watsonville
I have the honor of being the Mayor of Watsonville and a teacher at Pajaro Middle School. I find our youth to be smart, inclusive and powerful individuals. They have the courage to move our movement forward in an inclusive and positive way. I am confident their voices will continue to bring change to our schools, our communities and our world. It is because of the bravery of our LGBTQ+ community, that true change happens and will continue to happen. My advice to our youth is to always believe in yourselves and never forget how special you all are.
QYLA 2019 Message of Support from Dr. Faris Sabbah, Santa Cruz County, Superintendent of Schools
Please join me in celebrating our lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, intersex, questioning, and allied youth at the 22nd Annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards to honor the important contributions they are making to help our schools become safer and more welcoming for all students. It is so important that we, as an educational community, demonstrate our support for all student-run leadership initiatives to help encourage students to become leaders within their communities and help create environments that are supportive of all identities.
Welcome Message from Soquel High School
Welcome from Gail Atlansky, Principal, Soquel High School
We are honored and excited to host the 2018 Queer Youth Leadership Awards!
At Soquel High we are working hard to increase diversity and equity on campus and I am very proud of the generous student, staff, and community support that helped us reimagine our school in line with these values.Building on this progress, we decided our school’s goals needed to change to account for the vision and practices we are working hard to cultivate. With the support of faculty, staff, students, and families, two of our new school values are “Diversity” and Equity.” These values are not only part of our formal policy, but we are creating ways for them to be embedded in the very fabric of our campus. We are proud to say that we now have staff members who are out, an active QSA, and many students who comfortably identify as queer, gay, lesbian, bisexual, questioning, and trans at school.
As a Soquel High student in the 1980’s, the landscape was very different. I didn’t know any queer students or staff. I remember my first girlfriend asking me to take her to prom, but this was out of the question for me as I wasn’t comfortable being the first Other. It is refreshing to look back on these memories, knowing that Soquel High is a different school today. Though we still have work to do, such as more cross interest alliances among our student population, more out students, and more inclusion overall, I am excited to be a part of this chapter in our history. Hosting QYLA this year will be one of our many great successes! I am looking forward to celebrating our nominees with you and hope we can further inspire our young people to be courageous, confident, and empowered. — Principal Gail Atlansky
Welcome from Derek Kendall, Assistant Principal of Guidance and Counseling, Soquel High School
On behalf of the Soquel High School community, it is my honor to welcome the Queer Leadership Youth Awards to our campus. Through the collaborative efforts of students and staff, Soquel High recently adopted eight school-wide values, which drive our daily purpose – among them are kindness, equity, and diversity. Hosting the Queer Youth Leadership Awards at SHS is a positive step toward achieving these values, and I am very proud of our LGBTQ students, and their allies, for making this event a reality. When I was in high school I couldn’t imagine an evening specifically designed to celebrate the accomplishments of queer youth. Nearly 30 years later, I am delighted to be a part of that at Soquel High, and my husband and I are looking forward to honoring this year’s nominees and recipients. — Assistant Principal Derek Kendall
Welcome Message from Aptos High School Principal Casey O’Brien
The Aptos High School Mission Statement begins by saying “The Aptos High School community embraces its mission of providing appropriate educational opportunities, within a safe and nurturing learning environment, for each student in our culturally rich population.” I am proud to say that the term “each student” really means each student. We are proud and excited to host the 2016 Queer Youth Awards at AHS this year as one simple way to show our commitment towards equal rights for each student and particularly for the LGBT student community – to educate and celebrate all – without exception. The Queer Youth Awards celebrates the fantastic accomplishments of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender student community and we are proud to be a part of that at Aptos High!
Welcome Message from Scotts Valley
Mark Stone, Fifth District Supervisor Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
“Queer Youth Leadership Awards Honor Remarkable Young People”
“As a father of two Scotts Valley High students and the Supervisor for the District, I want to welcome the Queer Youth Leadership Awards to the Fifth District.
Since the first QYLA in 1998, over twenty LGBTIQ youth and youth and adult allies have been nominated from Scotts Valley, and we are proud that the QYLA, which travels around the county to recognize the community’s support for the tenacity of young people, is coming to Scotts Valley.
Each year, parents, siblings, youth groups, religious organizations, and politicians come together to help break down the discrimination that is a barrier to all LGBTIQ people and their friends, families, and allies. They are an inspiration to us and we look forward to hosting the 12th Annual Queer Leadership Awards in our community.”
Emily Reilly showing her support for the Queer Youth Leadership Awards at a rally in 2008 supporting same sex marriage. Emily Reilly has been a judge on more than one occasion for the QYLA and has been an avid supporter of the event.
Assemblymember John Laird
California Assemblymember John Laird giving a speech dedicated to the parents of LGBT youth at the 2007 Queer Youth Leadership Awards at Harbor High School. Assembly Member Laird speaks of the importance of family support for LGBT youth and talks about his own relationship with his family.
City of Santa Cruz Mayor Emily Reilly
Mayor Emily Reilly speaks at the 2007 Queer Youth Leadership Awards at Harbor High School. She delivers a proclamation from the city of Santa Cruz honoring the QYLA and thanks the community for being courageous and making a difference in an important time.
Ellen Pirie, Second District Supervisor and Richard Hill, Capitola City Manager
Ellen Pirie, Second District Supervisor and Richard Hill, Capitola City Manager, welcome everyone to the 11th Annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards. Ellen Pirie speaks of the importance of queer youth feeling safe and welcomed at their schools. Richard Hill talks about Capitola’s support for the next generation of community leaders.
Mark Stone, Fifth District Supervisor Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors
A statement from 2007 about the 10th Annual QYLA: Queer Youth Leadership Awards Honor Remarkable Young People.
“The annual Queer Youth Leadership Awards give the community an opportunity to show our admiration and respect for our lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and questioning youth. On this 10th anniversary of the Queer Youth Leadership Awards, we can clearly demonstrate our support for the courageous actions of our young people who are willing to face threats, slurs, and physical harassment for just being open about who they are. We have the opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made in this community and to think about what we have not yet achieved. The young people being honored by this award have distinguished themselves with their leadership in breaking down the barriers of discrimination and negative attitudes on behalf of all gay and non-gay people. They serve as an inspiration for all of us.”