Queer Youth Leadership Award, Nominees
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: She/Her/Hers / Matthew: He/Him/His
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.
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.
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.
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
He/Him/His & They/Them/Theirs
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
San Lorenzo Valley High School Student
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.
Ally to Queer Youth, Nominees
Dr. Faris Sabbah
Santa Cruz County Superintendent of Schools
Dr. Faris Sabbah is the Superintendent for the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, and has made equity a cornerstone of his work. Dr. Sabbah works to end discrimination based on race, sexual orientation, and gender identity in Santa Cruz County. Dr. Sabbah has implemented subcommittees to include queer youth safety as part of school safety plans and supported the development and implementation of the LGBTQ School Climate Index. He attends county LGBTQ Task Force meetings and local queer events like Pride, youth summits, and the Queer Youth Leadership Awards to show his support and affirm the importance of queer youth. There are few other educational leaders who have invested as much time professionally, personally, or financially for supporting queer youth and families across the county and the state.
Co-Facilitator, TransFamilies of Santa Cruz County
Michelle Brandt is the Co-Facilitator for Transfamilies of Santa Cruz County, a supportive parent, and a tireless ally to LGBTQ+ youth. Michelle often spends her weekends tabling at events to help support local families in understanding gender diversity so they are better able to support their gender expansive youth. In addition to advocating at events and supporting her own gender diverse child, Michelle has collaborated with the Safe Schools Project and Gender Spectrum to create several “Understanding Gender” adult summits to better reach local parents and families and educate them on gender. Michelle’s years of work and commitment to helping the families of trans and gender diverse kids have undoubtedly improved the lives of countless youths and made our communities stronger and our world better.
Math Teacher, Sequoia High School
Michele Delibert is a math teacher at Sequoia High School and a strong advocate for queer youth. Michele identified the need for a GSA on the Sequoia campus and advocated for one for years. She has worked hard to ensure queer youth at Sequoia are visible and have opportunities. Michele has taken students on field trips, including to the Queer Youth Leadership Awards, and has provided support for trans youth in crisis by connecting them with resources and ensuring they stay connected to school. She is willing to have difficult conversations and call people out when using homophobic language, and she works to educate her students and colleagues on the importance of respecting pronouns. Michele has worked hard to provide LGBTQ+ students a safe place on the Sequoia School campus.
Spanish Teacher & QSA Advisor, Soquel High School
Ryan Bosson is a Spanish Teacher and QSA advisor at Soquel High School who has been credited with helping increase both club attendance and impact. When he took on the role of club advisor, Ryan had three objectives: promote QSA and increase attendance, provide structure, and increase visibility and impact on school culture. By many measures, Ryan has succeeded in all his objectives. Under Ryan’s guidance, Soquel’s QSA has doubled the number of events they participate in, has elected leaders and crafted a mission statement, and created an online forum to connect students with events such as National Coming Out Day, Back to School Night, and Open House. Ryan’s leadership, love, and support has helped Soquel QSA have a positive impact on their school campus.
Director of Upper School, Mount Madonna School
Shannon Kelly is the high school director at Mount Madonna School and she revived the school’s GSA this year after a period of inactivity. Under Shannon’s direction, Mount Madonna GSA has become active and now has student leaders and engaging meetings. The club has sponsored events such as Ally Week, which included inspiring videos of LGBTQ individuls being played at the beginning of the day throughout the classrooms, and Rainbow Spirit Days, where Shannon served rainbow sherbert in the quad for those who dressed in rainbows. Shannon helped bring the Triangle Speakers to Mount Madonna and organized discussion groups with the presenters to further educate the student community and continue to build an inclusive and safe school environment. Shannon has brought acceptance and enthusiasm to Mount Madonna School.
Watsonville High School Student
Yvette Castillo is a student at Watsonville High School and a quiet leader that defends others. Yvette has attended Coming Out Days at Watsonville High and was a leader in organizing the event this year. Yvette works to create awareness of the importance of embracing diversity and she is always open to learning about new ways to support the queer community. This school year Yvette served as one of the founding creators of the Wellness Center at Watsonville High. Yvette even came to the school during Christmas break and helped paint the room. Yvette also organized the grand opening of the Wellness Center in January 2020. The event introduced students and staff to the center’s goal of providing students with strategies to increase resiliency and overall wellness.
Organizational Ally to Queer Youth, Nominee
Santa Cruz Derby Girls and Santa Cruz Derby Groms
The Santa Cruz Derby Groms and the Santa Cruz Derby Girls are inclusive organizations that involve many queer, non-binary, and trans youth and adults as both skaters and league volunteers. Both organizations have taken active roles in supporting LGBTQ+ youth across Santa Cruz County by holding free skate nights for LGBTQ+ youth at the roller palladium and reaching out to local GSAs to provide free tickets to Derby games. Both organizations openly welcome trans and nonbinary people to play and embrace people of all body types. Both organizations proudly show the incredible skill, strength, and importance of LGBTQ+ athletes. LGBTQ+ young people involved with the Santa Cruz Derby Groms harness their incredible strength, defy gender norms, and build lifelong bonds through the sport of roller derby.