An East Hampton High School junior who campaigned to start a Gay Straight Alliance at the middle school was named a national runner-up for “Student Advocate of the Year” by a leading organization that focuses on ensuring that schools are safe and places of tolerance.
Joel Johnson, 16, of Springs, was one of three finalists, out of more than 500 nominees, for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s award, announced this month.
“The best part of it was I ran into this teacher from my freshman year at a different high school and he asked to nominate me,” Johnson said. “I had done all this stuff in GSA (Gay Straight Alliance), but I didn’t consider myself a community leader or anything.”
The nomination, however, made Johnson realize that “a difference could be made by one person.”
Johnson, a female-to-male transsexual, is president of the East Hampton High School Gay Straight Alliance and also works with the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth Safe School Team.