Anna Goodman, Program Director
Los Angeles Federation Teen Program Accelerator
At the tender age of 17, Anna Goodman came out as a lesbian to her close friends and immediate family. Although they accepted her for who she was, synagogue and other Jewish environments were a difficult experience. She never felt appropriately dressed or like she said the right things. The thought of going to services triggered fear and anxiety.
“A lot of LGBTQ Jews – teens in particular – are going through similar experiences. They’re struggling with coming out, bullying, or just wrestling with being ‘different,’” says Goodman. She came to JQ International to provide them with the supportive environment she didn’t feel was available in her youth.
JQ serves LGBTQ Jews of all ages, but in the UpStart-powered Los Angeles Federation Teen Program Accelerator, she’s focusing on addressing the needs of teens during this vulnerable stage of life. Their Jewish Queer Straight Alliance (JQSA) creates a social environment where Jewish youth and teens can build community and wrestle with their shared struggles. JQ also runs a helpline for anyone who needs an ear or is struggling with how to come out, regardless of age or geographic location. But in the aftermath of the Orlando shooting, she’s thinking a lot about the work they do to make Jewish institutions safe and inclusive places for LGBTQ youth.
“When I ask people how they feel about LGBTQ people, I hear the words “I’m fine with it” a lot. But there’s a difference between tolerance and inclusivity. The difference is in what you’re doing to create a safe and inclusive space for LGBT youth. Are you showing up at Pride? Writing a letter that states your synagogue’s unequivocal support for LGBT people? Are you learning what the letters in LGBTQ mean? Standing up when you hear someone say something hurtful?”
Goodman notes that something like the Orlando shooting raises the stakes for people. She’s hoping that it will encourage more Jewish institutions to open their doors to JQ’s programming, and to engage in this critical work. “Synagogues and other institutions can really make a difference in how young people grow up. We’re excited to work with anyone who wants to create a more inclusive environment for the LGBTQ community.”
Learn more about JQ International’s Inclusion Consulting.
*If you or someone you know seeks help at this difficult time, needs a place to go, or simply wants your voice to be heard, we invite you to call or email the JQ Helpline at 855.574.4577, or at Helpline@JQInternational.org. The JQ Helpline is the only resource and social service referral line specifically designed to serve LGBTQ Jews, their families, and allies in the United States.
JQ International is in the UpStart-powered Los Angeles Federation Teen Program Accelerator, part of the larger Los Angeles Federation Teen Initiative and funded in partnership with the Jim Joseph Foundation.
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