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Alumnus Spotlight: Andi Salinas

June 30, 2021

Andi Salinas

Andi Salinas (CCP, SRP, '13) (they/their/theirs)
Youth Well-Being Manager, Human Rights Campaign

Can you tell us a bit about what your role at the Human Rights Campaign entails? 
I am responsible for planning and the logistics of a large, annual conference that focuses on providing youth-serving professionals the tools they need to better serve LGBTQ youth. I also manage a national campaign with 28 national partners (organizations like the National Education Association, the American Counseling Association, etc.) that aims to help those professional organizations support the LGBTQ youth their members interact with. 

What are some of the most pressing challenges LGBTQ+ youth are currently facing?  
There are a lot of issues facing LGBTQ youth, but the most pressing would be the wave of anti-LGBTQ legislation, most targeted at trans youth. A number of bills have been introduced or passed that range from limiting access to gender-affirming care to banning participation in sports to erasing LGBTQ history from school curriculum. These bills have the potential to greatly harm the well-being of trans youth and could further exacerbate their already precarious situation. If you look at The Trevor Project’s most recent survey of LGBTQ youth mental health, you’ll see that trans youth are at an even higher risk of poor mental health, suicidal ideation, and attempting suicide than their LGB peers. Something as simple as allowing trans and non-binary youth to change their legal documents can decrease these risks.

You’ve been in an array of roles that involve supporting youth (through AmeriCorps, in the Denver Public Schools, and through the GLBT Center of Colorado).  What do you find inspiring about working with that population?    
Youth are so much more capable and brilliant than people give them credit for. I’ve seen the youth I work with, especially HRC’s Youth Ambassadors, put in so much work to advocate for themselves and others in ways that have impacted so many people. Especially as a queer and nonbinary person working with LGBTQ youth, they have given me the courage to fully be myself and to keep pushing forward in this work that can sometimes be difficult and overwhelming. 

What one piece of advice would you offer someone who wants to be a better ally to LGBTQ+ youth?  
Accept LGBTQ youth as who they are, as people. I think sometimes their identities become so politicized that people forget they’re talking about real young people. No matter what your thoughts or opinions are, LGBTQ youth deserve the same respect and acceptance as anyone else.