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The 3 Best Ideas for Improving LGBT Lives

Amy Kelley, Leyth Swidan, and Ryan Wells
Amy Kelley Leyth Swidan and Ryan Wells

AT&T and the Human Rights Campaign have selected three young visionaries for having the best ideas to improve the lives of LGBT students. 

The inaugural AT&T Live Proud on Campus Scholarship, which sponsors three students with the most inventive ideas to improve the lives of LGBT students, has chosen its winners. Amy Kelley, Leyth Swidan, and Ryan Wells will receive the grand prize: a $10,000 scholarship, $2,500 in funding to execute their campus project, and a semester of mentorship experience from the Human Rights Campaign. The winners were flown to Washington, D.C., to attend the HRC National Dinner this past weekend.

Amy Kelley, of the University of Pittsburgh, pitched a mentorship program for LGBT students and allies inspired by her work as a resident adviser. The program will encourage peer inclusiveness and allyship, in hopes of giving people knowledge rather than "the benefit of the doubt." Leyth Swidan, a master of public administration candidate at Columbia University, who identifies as a gay Muslim Arab andhas been called a "terrorist fag," has struggled with people doubting him in both his religious and queer communities. His project, "Faithfully Queer," uses photojournalism to showcase LGBT people on his campus from multiple religious backgrounds. "The main aim of this is to promote intersectional identities in the LGBT and broader communities at Columbia, where a large majority of students are international, [and] there will be no shortage of stories to tell."

Education and storytelling overlap in Ryan Wells's project. A 19-year-old gay man from Elon University in North Carolina, Wells hopes to work for an LGBT advocacy organization after he graduates. His project is an inclusive sexual health program that includes queer identities, to make up for the lackof LGBT-oriented education available for queer students before entering college. The program would focus on queer consent, STIs, and PrEP, and teaching students with queer partners how to have safer sex. He hopes to make the education open to LGBT high schoolers so they can learn about "sex-ed that will actually pertain to them."

In addition to this partnership, AT&T is donating $25,000 to HRC. The campaign and project video pitches can be viewed here.

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