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LGBTQ and Ally Teen Shabbaton
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BBYO youth at The March for Equality
Do you think you are or might be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer?
Figuring out who you are and how you identify, and potentially coming out to the people you love isn’t always easy, but you’re not alone. Keshet has a lot of things you can read and explore to understand how some queer Jews relate to being LGBTQ and Jewish, and how our allies are taking action. Here are some ways you can find others to connect with and find support.
- Watch Marina’s story
- See how other LGBTQ Jewish teens about feel about their identity.
- Jeremy Burton, Keshet Board Member and Director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Boston, talks about being gay and Jewish, and why LGBTQ Jews are integral members of our communities.
- Jewish youth groups are becoming more and more inclusive. Check out this video from BBYO and see a letter that all of the major youth movements signed committing to ending bullying.
Are you or your family Orthodox, traditional, observant, or frum?
- Check out Jewish Queer Youth (JQYouth or JQY), a social and support group for frum and formerly frum LGBT Jews ages 17-30.
- Visit Eshel, an organization dedicated to creating understanding and support for LGBT people in traditional communities. They offer great events and resources designed especially for observant Jews.
- Watch this video from other LGBTQ gay Orthodox Jews who want you to know that it does get easier.
Looking for a safe place to ask questions about sexuality, gender identity, and sex?
- Check out Scarleteen. Scarleteen offers inclusive, comprehensive, and smart sexuality information for folks in their teens and 20s.
- Planned Parenthood will text you answers to your questions about sexual heath, totally anonymous.
Are you in crisis or are thinking about suicide?
Please talk to someone you trust or call The Trevor Project Lifeline for immediate help at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866.488.7386). Available 24/7. Calls are confidential and toll-free.
Jewish tradition teaches us that all people – without exception – are created B’Tzelem Elohim, in God’s image. You are imbued with holiness and your life is sacred. We want to meet you one day, to count you among the tens of thousands of LGBT and ally Jews in our community fighting to make this world safer and more whole for all of us. Please reach out for help. We need you to stick around.
Not in crisis, but having a hard time?
- Kate Bornstein wrote an awesome book, Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws. You can buy it here, and read a few snippets here. You can also watch her “It Gets Better” Video here.
- Visit TrevorChat, a confidential and secure messaging service to ask questions or get advice: Friday, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 1:00 pm – 7 pm Pacific (4:00 pm- 10 pm Eastern).
Have a friend who recently came out to you?
Not sure what to do? Here is a list of tips for supporting your friends when they come out to you.
Do you want to see LGBT Jewish role models on the walls of your synagogue or school?
Want to know more about some of the awesome LGBT Jews throughout history? Check it out: http://lgbtjewishheroes.org. We’ve also got a whole library of LGBT Jewish resources here.
Thinking about starting a GSA (GLBTQ-Straight Alliance) or other LGBTQA community group at your school, synagogue, camp, or youth group?
A GSA is a club which provides a safe place for students to meet, support each other, talk about issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity, and work to end homophobia. GSAs are a great way to build community at your school and lessen the isolation that GLBTQ students might otherwise experience.
Check out the movie we made, Hineini: Coming Out in a Jewish High School, which tells the story of a student at a pluralistic Jewish Day School and her courageous campaign to start a GSA. You can order a copy for yourself or your institution here.
You can also take a look at this toolkit, put together by GLSEN, the Gay Lesbian Straight Education Network, on tips and tools for creating a GSA: GLSEN Jump-Start Guide for Gay Straight Alliances. Visit the GSA Network for other ideas on creating a GSA at your school.
Jewish LGBT Youth Groups
- Rockville Open House (Washington DC) Monthly Meeting (1st Thursday each month). Rockville Open House (ROH) is a supervised, safe gathering space for lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning,or intersex (LGBTQQI) teens, and their friends and allies, between the ages of 13-18 yrs old. ROH is open once a month,from 7:00 pm – 9:45 pm at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington Youth Lounge, 6125 Montrose Road, Rockville, MD. Check out Rockville Open House on Facebook.
- Fairfax Open House (Fairfax Virginia) Monthly Meeting (2nd Monday each month) Fairfax Open House is a monthly support group for LGBT Jewish teens that meets the second Monday a month at the JCC in Northern Virginia. Check Out Fairfax Open House on Facebook.
- Brooklyn Jewish GSA (Brooklyn, NY) A group that is a safe, supportive and social place to discuss issues, ask questions, and celebrate. Participation in the Brooklyn Jewish GSA is free, open to interested high school students, meets once a month at the Park Slope Jewish Center in Brooklyn. See our Wall for info on dates and times. The Brooklyn Jewish GSA is led by adult Jewish facilitators who are committed to mentoring the LGBTQ and ally youth of Brooklyn. The Brooklyn Jewish GSA is an initiative of the Park Slope Jewish Center and Kolot Chayeinu, in collaboration with Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
- Queer Jewish Teen Group (San Francisco) - Events for LGBTQIQ Jewish Teens! Based at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco. Check out their Facebook page.
- Atlanta: New GLBTQ (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender or Questioning) group for teens (from 12-16 years) will start at Jewish Family & Career Services in Dunwoody. The group will meet every other Wednesday, 6-7:30pm, January 30 through April 24 (members can join at any time). A concurrent group for parents of any GLBTQ teen will be held the last Wednesday of the month, starting January 30. In lieu of a participation fee, a donation of any amount is greatly appreciated. All participants are required to attend an individual meeting prior to joining the group. To set up a meeting, or for more information, please contact Dan Arnold at firstname.lastname@example.org , 770.677.9314.
Jewish High Schools with Gay Straight Alliances
The following schools currently have (or have had in the past) an active Gay-Straight Alliance.
- The Abraham Joshua Heschel School (New York, NY) - Alliance For Respect
- American Hebrew Academy, (Greensboro, NC) - Diversity Alliance
- Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, (Rockville, MD) - Gay Straight Alliance
- Chicagoland Jewish High School, (Morton Grove, IL)
- Frankel Jewish Academy, (West Bloomfield Township, MI) – Diversity Club
- Gann Academy – The New Jewish High School of Greater Boston (Waltham, MA) – Open House
- Golda Och Academy (West Orange New Jersey) – Gay Straight Alliance
- Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy (Bryn Mawr, PA ) – Alliance
- Milken Community High School (Los Angeles, CA) - Gay Straight Alliance
- New Community Jewish High School (West Hills, CA) – B’tselem Elohim/Gay-Straight Alliance
- San Diego Jewish Academy (San Diego, CA)
- Shoshana S. Cardin School (Baltimore, MD)
Does your school have a GSA? Let us know! Want help starting one but don’t know where to start? Give Joanna Ware a call at 617.524.9227 or send us an email.
Looking for LGBT Inclusive Colleges?
Check out this guide and read Hillel’s recommendations.