Casey Horton, the Alliance Board’s Chair-Elect, speaks about why you should give to the Alliance:
I originally became involved with the Alliance (when it was still CESO) through my former employer. My employer sponsored a charter school on the South Side of Chicago. They tasked our LGBTQ employee resource group with sponsoring an LGBTQ Awareness Day for the students. We did some research, and collaborated with CESO who helped with that event and many other activities related to LGBTQ awareness for the youth attending the school. As the relationship grew, so did my own interest in the Alliance’s work.
I, personally, had been looking at the time for an organization that I could support financially and time-wise. The Alliance was filling a gap in the LGBT community that no one had addressed yet. Soon after, I began volunteering for the Brunch and Development Committees, since that seemed like a good fit for me. As someone who has a broad personal and professional network of friends and acquaintances, I was able to find many LGBTQ corporate allies and individuals who began to support the Alliance’s work financially. After serving as a committee member for a few years, I was invited to become a board member, and am now serving the first year of my second term on the board.
In my view, what truly sets the Alliance apart is that we give youth a voice and a seat at the table. While we do provide adult leadership and supervision, we take into account the voice and feedback of youth in all our programs, whether it is professional development for schools, or our fundraising events. We actively seek their input and engage them in improving and building on our work. Additionally, we are an organization that values intersectionality. Our safe schools work and our mission, though centered on LGBTQ youth as well as sexual orientation and gender identity, is cognizant of other systematic issues such as racism, socio-economic barriers to education, etc. In the last few years, we’ve taken several strides to become aware of this intersectionality and have tried to mirror that in our work.
The Alliance has a grassroots history and humble beginnings. We started with little, and eventually became really good at doing a lot with limited resources. We have continued to grow, in terms of our breadth of service and achieving our statewide mission, as well as the number of people and schools served. My last seven-ten years with the Alliance have energized me; I believe that we will continue to build on this solid foundation.
I know that there are several larger LGBTQ organizations doing great work at a national level. However, our work as a local organization in Illinois is both impactful and much-needed. The youth we empower will lead and become part of our workforce in the coming years. I urge you to support these youth and ensure that they have access to the safest possible learning environments in their school, where they can learn and grow without fear and/or isolation. Donate to our 100 Stories Campaign today!