Today, May 17th marks the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) -- a global celebration of gender and sexual diversity. This year, 2017, the theme is focused on families. We know that family support is critical to the health and well-being of LGBTQ2S young people. We also know that not all LGBTQ2S young people receive support from their families of origin, and that the consequences of family rejection can have a lasting negative impact on youth.
For more than a decade Jama Shelton has worked in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth homelessness. After receiving a master of social work in 2004, Shelton began a nine-year stint at the Ali Forney Center, an organization that provides housing and supportive services for LGBT youth experiencing homelessness. Having worked in various roles (first as a direct service provider, then developing and directing the expansion of their housing program, and finally as a researcher, program evaluation and trainer), Jama brings a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing both homeless LGBT youth and the service providers with whom they work. Shelton has extensive experience as a trainer and consultant. She has led numerous workshops throughout the United States and Canada, providing technical assistance in partnership with organizations like the Runaway and Homeless Youth Technical Assistance and Training Center and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Shelton has also presented original research about the experiences of homeless LGBT youth at various conferences, including the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting and the Society for Social Work and Research. Shelton is also an active contributor to multiple organizations. She is a member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, serving as an Emerging Scholar representative on their Awards Committee. Shelton completed her doctoral candidate in Social Welfare at the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013. She is a post doctoral research fellow at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the Silver School of Social Work at NYU, where she is also an adjunct professor. She takes the job of educating the next generation of social service providers quite seriously. In addition to her formal education as a social worker and her practice experience with LGBT youth, Shelton’s life experiences have played an integral role in her professional trajectory. As a formerly homeless youth, she is well aware of the critical need for building education and awareness for all families and all youth, as well as the importance of inclusion and the impact of rejection.
The month of Pride is a time for LGBTQ2S individuals to not only say who we are; but to also celebrate and be proud of who we are. Pride month is meant to remind us that we are real and that we matter, however, not all members of our community are seen; not all are celebrated; many are silenced and marginalized, made to feel that they are not real and that they do not belong.
06/19/2015 05:18 EDT
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