Every year, during the month of June, the LGBTQ+ community celebrates Pride Month that includes a variety of gatherings and experiences as a way of recognizing the influence LGBTQ+ people have had around the world. June was chosen for Pride Month because the Stonewall Riots (which served as a catalyst for the gay rights movement and led to the creation of various gay activist groups in the United States) took place in June 1969.
In that spirit, LiNK Jewish Buffalo is spotlighting LGBTQ+ leaders in Jewish Buffalo throughout June, and today we’re delighted to cast a spotlight on Jack Kavanaugh, Executive Director of GLYS WNY.
Jack is a proud City Honors Alumni and grew up at Temple Beth Am (now Congregation Shir Shalom) and was a member of TBaZY (Temple Beth Zion’s youth group) while in high school. He also spent some of his summers attending and working at Camps Centerland and Lakeland. His mom, Barbra Kavanaugh, was elected as the first openly gay member of the Buffalo Common Council in 1995. Jack graduated from Goucher College with a BA in Religion, earned a Master of Social Work from UB in 2015, and most recently received a Certificate in Public Management from Buffalo State College in 2021. Prior to joining the GLYS WNY team in January, Jack was the Director of Training & Program Development at MENTOR New York.
“I am immensely proud of the work we do at GLYS to build safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, particularly our transgender and gender nonconforming youth. Rates of suicide, homelessness and negative health outcomes are incredibly high among LGBTQ+ youth, and the most reliable intervention is access to safe and affirming spaces and relationships,” shared Jack.
GLYS, originally established in 1983, has been working since 2006 with schools to establish a curriculum which assists them in developing a safe and inclusive environment for all of their students and encourages creating and maintaining Gay Straight/Gender Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) in their schools. Currently, GLYS WNY works closely with 72 schools in the Western New York area that have established GSAs. Each year GLYS WNY hosts a GLYS GSA Conference which allows teachers and students from across all 8 counties in Western New York to interact with one another in a safe, learning rich environment.
Jack will be joining Temple Beth Zion on Friday, June 24 to speak at their Pride Shabbat. All are welcome to join!
For more information about GLYS WNY and the services they provide, visit their website at https://www.glyswny.org/