Giving Compass' Take:

• Sameer Jha is a 17-year-old LGBTQ activist that founded The Empathy Alliance, an organization that aims to help schools build safer environments for LGBTQ youth. 

• Jha discusses the importance for schools to teach more inclusive health education curricula for LGBTQ students. What are the ways donors can help make this happen in local school districts? 

• Read about why LGBTQ youth are at greater risk of homelessness and incarceration. 

Sameer Jha is just 17 years old, but has already achieved something remarkable — establishing a nonprofit and helping it become a cultural force. On top of all that, Jha is also a youth ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation.

At the age of 14, Jha founded The Empathy Alliance, an organization dedicated to making schools safer for LGBTQ youth. As a queer and trans middle schooler, Jha says they endured extensive harassment and bullying. By establishing the nonprofit, they hoped to dramatically improve the quality of life for other LBGTQ students, so that no one would have the same traumatizing experience.

Jha started the Empathy Alliance by conducting research on school climate for students in the Bay Area. After discovering that the majority of LGBTQ students surveyed experienced bullying and name calling because of their identity, they decided to work with their old middle school to establish a Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) for youth, add safe space stickers to classrooms, fill the library with LGBTQ-friendly books, and encourage educators to take Gender Spectrum training (Gender Spectrum helps organizations and individuals who work with youth to become more gender-sensitive and inclusive). The Empathy Alliance now serves the entire district, including 42 schools and over 35,000 students.

Mashable spoke to Jha about activism, the Empathy Alliance, and how schools can better serve LGBTQ youth.

HD: How can schools better serve LGBTQ youth?
SJ: I really believe in the importance of inclusive health education. That's been a battle in local school districts. Students need to know what queer identities are and that it's okay to be queer. Just having your identity acknowledged by an adult can be life-changing. Just even mentioning it in the classroom.

Read the full article about LGBTQ activism by Heather Dockray at Mashable.