Maddux Eckerling is a senior at Ghidotti High School who is launching an event called Strength in Pride at the Miners Foundry Cultural Center to educate the community on what it is like to be a LGBTQIA+ youth in our rural community as his senior project required for graduation.
Eckerling plans to host a panel of local LGBTQIA+ students who will discuss struggles the LGBTQIA+ youth face and how individuals can support LGBTQIA+ youth and adults on March 23, at the Miners Foundry located at 325 Spring St. in Nevada City from 6:30 p.m. — 8 p.m.
“Support means coming ready to learn and having an open mind, to stand up and stick up for people, to be an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community,” Eckerling said. “There is a lot of ignorance against LGBTQIA+ people that leads to discrimination and hate.”
Members of the public are invited to attend and participate in the event. Written questions or comments will be submitted before the discussion begins, and Eckerling will mediate the discussion.
“I believe that discrimination still exists for adults and youth in the classroom and in the workplace,” Eckerling said. “There are over 200 laws around the county that still discriminate against LGBTQIA+ community.”
As part of the required senior project, Ghidotti students must work with a mentor. Daniela Fernández, vice mayor of Nevada City, has agreed to work with Eckerling on the Strength in Pride event. Fernández also works with the County of Nevada and What's Up Wellness to support LGBTQIA+ youth in our schools for the Spectrum Project.
Eckerling has worked with Fernández in a youth group called Acting Up! through the Bright Futures for Youth group every other week for some time. The goal of the Acting Up! is for youth to investigate the issues they face surrounding their identities and to write and perform skits to express these issues.
“I work with Max and other LGBTQIA+ youth once a week in a program called Acting Up! This program is grant-funded through the Nevada County Arts Council and in collaboration with Bright Futures for Youth,” Fernández said. “Acting Up! is a space for LGBTQIA+ youth to share their thoughts, feelings, experiences through theater and storytelling as a way to build community, validate their experiences, and feel seen and heard.”
It was an obvious connection for Eckerling to ask Fernández to mentor him because Eckerling plans on studying sociology at San Francisco State University and go on to earn a masters degree in social work, and ultimately to work in public advocacy and organization, according to Eckerling.
“Max is a bright, brave, talented young leader who wants his hometown to be a safer place for his community. I’m honored to be working alongside him for his senior project — Strength in Pride,” Fernández said.
To contact Staff Writer Marianne Boll-See, email firstname.lastname@example.org.