Sign up yourself or someone you know to become a #TCFYouthAmbassador by filling out the form below!
Current Tyler Clementi Foundation Ambassadors
Marisol May Gutierrez
Marisol May Gutierrez is an 11-year-old attending middle school in North Bend, Washington. Marisol started elementary school thinking her family was just like any other family but quickly found out it was different. Marisol has two moms and was bullied beginning in first grade. She knew very quickly that she must stand up against bullies and began advocating for anyone who may have been “different” but especially for LGBTQ people. Starting in 3rd grade, she began to educate her peers and teachers about creating an inclusive environment. She ran into a lot of resistance, but before she left the school, she wrote an article for the school newsletter explaining her struggles and encouraged others to work to create inclusive and safe spaces. Now, in middle school, she has started a GSA and is helping teachers to learn how they can create inclusive and safe spaces for her peers.
Sameer Jha is a fifteen year old LGBTQ+ activist, with a goal to make schools safe for ALL students regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Driven by his own experiences with bullying and harassment throughout elementary and middle school, he created a nonprofit called The Empathy Alliance to ensure that others would not experience what he went through. In addition to being a Youth Ambassador for the Tyler Clementi Foundation, Sameer is also a Congressional Award recipient, a Youth Board Member of the GSA Network in Northern California, an Anti-Defamation League certified Peer Trainer, President of his school’s Gender & Sexuality Awareness Club, and an Executive Committee member of his school’s Equity Leadership Team. Sameer also collaborates on LGBTQ+ awareness projects with organizations like the Oakland mayor’s office, Trikone, Oakland Pride, and The Asian Educator’s Alliance. In just the last 12 months, Sameer has worked with educators and students from over fifty schools and has spoken at conferences, taught classes, and facilitated workshops reaching hundreds of students on topics as diverse as understanding intersectionality, starting a GSA, overcoming hidden biases, and exploring gender. Sameer has also been politically active in advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and has interned for The Mayor of Oakland, Congressman Ro Khanna’s campaign, met with local and state politicians, and spoken at SF City Hall. However, nothing has given Sameer as much satisfaction as returning to his own middle school in Fremont and working directly with the counselor, principal and student leaders to improve the environment for LGBTQ+ students.
To relax, in his spare time Sameer engages in many different creative pursuits like acting, singing and writing. He has performed at Carnegie Hall in New York; trained as a songwriter at The Berklee College of Music in Boston, and as an actor with A.C.T in San Francisco. Sameer has also acted in numerous plays, musicals and stage readings with theatre companies like Starstruck Theatre, Solskrit/Gurus of Dance Company, and Naatak. In 2017 he was selected to become a California Arts Scholar and will attend a program for emerging creative writers run by the state of California.
Shane Shananaquet is a 16 year old Native American, transgender, gay male, living in a rural area of Southern Michigan. Shane lives in a single parent, low income home is a high school junior.
His intersectioning identities aside, he is a regular teenager; he enjoys music, hanging out with his friends, choir, and musicals. But his passion lies in advocacy for LGBT rights, especially in the area of LGBT Youth. Shane has spoken before the Michigan State Board of Education in support of safe and supportive schools for LGBT youth and was a Youth Ambassador for the Women’s March on Washington. He was a workshop presenter at the 2017 “Time to Thrive” conference, sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign, is a member of the Michigan Department of Education’s HIV Review Panel, and a member of the Michigan Organization of Adolescent Sexual Health (MOASH) MiCAH (Michigan Communities Against Hate) Coalition, which seeks to institute a statewide integrated program of services and training to reduce hate crimes against LGBTQ youth. In June 2017, he was the featured speaker on the steps of the Michigan State Capitol for the Michigan Pride rally, where he spoke of the importance of amplifying youth voices. His future plans include attending the ACLU Summer Institute Program and participating in the YouthResource program for Advocates for Youth.
Shane walks the halls of school every day to taunts of “kill yourself” and worse. Where many of us would have crawled into bed forever, Shane has chosen instead to stand up and fight. He says that he wants to stand up and speak out for those that can’t yet find their voices. He takes the hit in hopes of preventing the next kid from having to do it. Shane is truly a change maker. Shane is WOKE! This kid is going places and you will know his name, well.
Valerie Scarlett is a social rights activist from Buffalo, Wyoming. They’ve worked for the Matthew Shepard Foundation as a Youth Columnist, and they’re currently training with Crisis Text Line to be a Crisis Counselor. Most recently, Val was featured on MicMedia’s video promoting the importance of GLSEN’s Day of Silence.
Valerie is passionate about creating inclusive environments on and offline. They are attending Hartwick College in the hopes of obtaining a degree in Sociology, and eventually use it to address and devise potential solutions and improvements to social inequities. Val is extremely excited to be apart of the TCF Youth Ambassadors program, and can’t wait to see what lies ahead!
Charlotte Simpson is a senior at Ridgewood High School and a leader of her school’s Gay-Straight-Alliance. She led a movement to hang the pride flag in front of the school for pride month, making Ridgewood High School the first high school in the county to do so. She also led her club in the annual Day of Silence, and a pride flag sale to raise money for the New Jersey Pride Center. Charlotte was featured as an Upstander by the Tyler Clementi Foundation for her work in her community during pride month.
Madeleine Bunten is a 17-year-old writer from Texas. She has been advocating for LGBT+ rights and working with the Tyler Clementi foundation for the past few years.