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Acceptance, safety and support—Los Angeles Newsletter: Summer 2018

Dear Friends,

Acceptance, safety, and support are basic needs of all young people. With that understanding, I was proud to receive special recognition by the California State Legislature last month along with several other people making a difference in the LGBTQ+ community, thanks to a nomination by Senator Ricardo Lara, Vice Chair of the LGBT Caucus. Building safe spaces for LGBTQ+ folks is an important part of my advocacy, one I’m proud to also bring to Peer Health Exchange Los Angeles.

Pride Month may be behind us now, but at Peer Health Exchange we celebrate, show up for and support LGBTQ+ youth year round. As a nation we’ve come a long way since protestors publicly demanded fair treatment outside Los Angeles’ Black Cat Tavern in 1967, and revolutionary activists like Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera paved the way for human rights in the Stonewall uprising in New York City—but systemic barriers still prevent too many LGBTQ+ young people from leading long and healthy lives.

One of those barriers is access to inclusive and affirming health information and resources. In Los Angeles, we’ve grown to provide our trauma-informed, skills-based health curriculum to more than 2,000 young people each year. Our work is far from done.

As more young people are finding the courage to embrace their true, authentic selves—9 out of 10 LGBTQ+ youth report being ‘out’ to their close friends, and a new study shows more young people are feeling safer to identify as transgender or gender nonconforming—we can each play a role in affirming young folks while building accepting spaces for them in schools.

That’s one of the many reasons Peer Health Exchange Los Angeles works alongside college volunteers to ensure our health workshops are inclusive of all gender identities and sexual orientations, medically accurate and age appropriate. Please join us to make sure that your community, your schools, and your family show up for and support LGBTQ+ youth.

In Solidarity,

LaDawn Best
Los Angeles Executive Director


Dear Friends,

Watching the news these days, I often feel paralyzed. There are times I’m unsure of what to say, or if it’s my place to say anything at all. But then I remember that the work we do at Peer Health Exchange—showing up for young people— compels me to speak out and act.

When I first learned about the thousands of children currently being detained at the U.S.-Mexico border, I thought about my own small sons and all that it takes for children to develop. Working in health education, I know that trauma and toxic stress in young children can affect healthy brain development and have lasting effects long into adulthood.

There are many young people already in this country that live daily with the fear of separation and deportation. The future of these children—at the border and in our communities—will impact us all, and I urge you to consider how these violent policies are creating a public and mental health crisis that will affect all of us for generations to come.

Peer Health Exchange believes that every young person deserves to live a long, healthy life, and we urge you to join us in showing up for them.

With gratitude,

Louise Langheier
Co-Founder and CEO

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