Student San Francisco, CA
I first discovered a dearth of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender literature in schools when I needed information on how come out as lesbian to my parents in 7th grade. I was scared. I had no idea how to tell my family that I wanted to marry a girl. Eventually, I mustered up the courage to come out. While my family was accepting, I could not shake my discomfort from knowing that other kids in my school had no books to turn to for help. This inspired me to start The Make It Safe Project, an organization that sends books about sexual orientation and gender expression to schools and youth homeless shelters. Each box contains ten books, a mix of fiction and nonfiction, with topics ranging from coming out to dealing with bullying. In the last year, I have spent over 500 hours on The Make It Safe Project, giving more than 60,000 kids access to books. I have reached eighteen states -- Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Oregon, South Carolina, Texas, and Washington -- and internationally to Mauritius. Additionally, I am in the process of making The Make It Safe Project a registered non-profit corporation. A year from now, I hope I can say I have given 100,000 teens access to books. Every day, I hear that one person can change the world, but there is a difference between hearing that and experiencing it yourself. I hope my story inspires you to help make your community safe for all students. I hope you, too, get the chance to experience the feeling you get from knowing you have made a difference. For the past two years, Amelia has participated in GLSEN's Student Ambassador program, a student leadership program run by GLSEN's communications department. She credits the success of The Make It Safe Project to the experience, tools, and support she gained through the Ambassador program. If you are interested in GLSEN's Student Ambassador program, make sure you are subscribed to student updates and we'll let you know when applications open this spring.