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2022 Recipient

Cameron Samuels

Katy, TX | 18

2022 Award Recipient

Growing up queer, Jewish, and with Tourette’s Syndrome, Cameron understood from an early age the power of inclusive and supportive educational environments. When they realized their school district policies blocked websites to organizations such as the Trevor Project, the Human Rights Campaign, and the Houston Montrose Center, Cameron knew that they needed to organize to make changes. They launched an effort to bring inclusion for LGBTQ+ students in the Katy Independent School District, bringing students together to both raise awareness and push to implement changes in policy by speaking at school board meetings, organizing digitally on social media, communicating with the press, and meeting with district officials. While their work continues and has expanded to engaging students in other school districts in Texas facing similar challenges, Cameron’s project has been successful in bringing about change in their school district of 90,000 students, including the unblocking of websites such as the Human Rights Campaign, PFLAG, and GLSEN.

KatyISD LGBTQ+ Inclusion Efforts

In school one day, Cameron attempted to visit the website of a queer youth suicide prevention organization and was shocked to find that it was blocked by the campus internet under the category of “Alternative Sexual Lifestyles (GLBT)” along with other local and national websites dedicated to LGBTQ+ equality and support. As a queer student who understood both firsthand and from friends the struggle to find support and acceptance, Cameron was inspired to begin an effort to lift the bans on these sites and bring justice to queer students within their school district of 90,000 students. Cameron’s leadership has led to coordinated efforts that garnered nearly 2,000 petition signatures, partnerships with non-profit organizations and community groups, dedicated supporters speaking at school board meetings, and hours of conversations with school district officials. Their efforts expanded beyond internet censorship to combat banning books on race, the Holocaust, and LGBTQ+ topics, as well as en