Anyone who met Kyler Prescott knew that he was special. A gifted artist, pianist and poet, Kyler expressed his creativity through every aspect of his life. He worked hard perfecting his passions and loved to spend any additional free time advocating for animal justice and LGBTQ rights.
Kyler Prescott came out as transgender at age 13 and in May 2015, after enduring transphobic bullying and discrimination by peers and others, the Vista, CA teenager died by suicide. He was only 14 years old.
A month prior to his death, Katharine Prescott, Kyler’s mother, took Kyler to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego for suicidal ideation and for treatment of self-inflicted injuries. The hospital was aware that Kyler was a transgender boy and Katharine made clear to hospital staff that her son must be treated as male. But during his stay, hospital staff repeatedly addressed Kyler as a girl. As a result, he continued to get worse and instead of treating him, Rady hospital discharged him early, before his medical hold even expired. Five weeks later, Kyler was gone.
On September 26, 2016, Kyler’s mother, Katharine Prescott, filed a lawsuit against Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego for discriminating against her son, misgendering him, and for claiming expertise in the care of transgender patients. After NCLR won two important rulings, Rady settled the case with Kyler’s mom in September 2019.
“When my son was in despair, I entrusted Rady Children’s Hospital with his safety and well-being,” said Katharine Prescott. “Hospitals are supposed to be safe places that help people when they’re in need. Instead of recovering at the hospital, Kyler got worse because staff continued to traumatize him by repeatedly treating him as a girl and ignoring his serious health issues. It’s painful to speak out, but I want to make sure no other parent or child ever has to go through this again.”
Rich Weissman and JD Horn first fell in love with NCLR in 2017, immediately impressed by the breadth and scope of the work and the sheer determination to create change. They have been serious NCLR fans ever since, hosting NCLR in their home in Palm Springs and providing meaningful financial support.
When asked “why NCLR?” they are quick with a response.
First, NCLR gets things done. They do not talk about what steps need to be taken to move our community forward; they take the steps and make it happen. They are activists, and for NCLR, action and results are what matter. We admire their “can do” approach and how much they accomplish.
Second, NCLR is run in large numbers by lesbians, and these women view the world through a broader lens and see opportunity that others miss. They are incredibly smart, professional, know how to roll up their sleeves, focus, and push forward to reach goals. Women in general, and the lesbian community in particular, are people who get the job done, and we admire them. We think it is important that women play a critical role in the LGBTQ community, and NCLR helps fill that gap.
Third, NCLR looks for legislative and legal opportunities to gain further LGBTQ rights. They understand that in America the courts play the critical role of providing and upholding LGBTQ civil rights, and so they focus on legal remedies for our communities, taking on cases that have national implications far beyond the specifics of each case.
Fourth, NCLR unites the LGBTQ community. There can be divisiveness among the diverse LGBTQ community segments, each viewing its constituencies in competition with others, as if civil rights, activism and support are a zero-sum scenario. But, NCLR understands that we are all in the same struggle, and by working as a united LGBTQ community, on all fronts and inclusive of LGBTQ issues across the spectrum, we can produce more positive and comprehensive results, benefiting us all in ways we cannot do as a fragmented community.
Fifth, we like that NCLR represents all of the components of the LGBTQ community – lesbian gay, bisexual, trans and everyone else who identifies as LGBTQ. So often the LGBTQ community keeps within its “own” group and does not always engage in meaningful relationships across the LGBTQ spectrum. NCLR engenders an inclusive kind of community building and provides it supporters with such opportunities.
This past December, Rich and JD made a significant investment in NCLR’s Transgender Youth Project, helping us further our work and showing true philanthropic leadership across our community. So impressed with our Senior Staff Attorney, Asaf Orr, and a desire to show support for the trans community in the midst of rampant transphobia, Rich and JD marry their passions for youth, trans rights, and a stronger, more inclusive LGBTQ movement. As parents of two daughters who are both attorneys, they appreciate the role that the law can play in setting precedent and furthering human rights.
When asked what they would say to others considering support of NCLR’s work, they shared this:
“Supporting NCLR is more than a donation. It is a family, a group of friends, a community. It expands one’s world vision, understanding of events and role that each of us can play in creating a better place for all LGBTQ people.”
Shannan Wilber, Esq.
Youth Policy Director
In May, Shannan Wilber, NCLR’s Youth Policy Director, will receive the Juvenile Law Center’s 2020 Leadership Award. Given to individuals across the country whose work has substantially improved the lives of children in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, this award recognizes what we at NCLR already know about Shannan – she is a fierce and tireless advocate for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our community.
Shannan is a career child advocate. She represented individual children at Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, engaged in impact litigation and policy advocacy at the Youth Law Center, and served for many years as the Executive Director at Legal Services for Children, a law office in San Francisco that represents children in foster care, education, guardianship and immigration proceedings.
Shannan joined NCLR’s staff in 2013, though her history with the organization goes back decades – as a donor, board member and co-counsel on cases involving the forced institutionalization of LGBTQ youth and the rights of children in public systems. Beginning in the early 2000’s, Shannan worked closely with NCLR to develop legal protections for LGBTQ youth in foster care and juvenile justice systems, including groundbreaking practice standards published by the Child Welfare League of America. In 2005, she collaborated with NCLR and the National Juvenile Defender Center to launch the Equity Project – a national initiative dedicated to ensuring equal and respectful treatment of LGBTQ youth in the justice system. Since joining NCLR, Shannan has built on this foundation to integrate the needs and voices of LGBTQ youth into efforts to transform public systems of care across the country.
Through tenacious and strategic advocacy, Shannan has shined a light on the structural bias that harms LGBTQ youth and undermines their potential. She has increased awareness, pushed for change and immeasurably improved the prospects of our community’s children. Her vision is our vision – that LGBTQ youth, like all youth, thrive in families and communities who cherish them.
2019 Kate Kendell Award Recipient:
Maria “Lupita” Lopez Segoviano
As the NCLR Board of Directors seeks to award the second annual Kate Kendell Commitment to Justice Award, we visit with our inaugural winner. In May of 2019, Lupita graduated Cum Laude and with recognition for Outstanding Achievement in Pro Bono. Lupita was sworn into the California Bar in December 2019 and is currently working as a criminal defense attorney primarily assisting Spanish-speaking clients.
Growing up in Mexico until age nine, Lupita immigrated and settled in Salinas Valley. A child of farm workers, her hard working role models encouraged her to push hard to attend college and follow her dreams of helping others in communities like her own. A graduate of Santa Clara University and UC Hastings College of the Law, Lupita embodies the spirit of the Kate Kendell Scholarship Award.
Being selected as the recipient of the Kate Kendell Commitment to Justice Award was hard to grasp as I sat in my chair at last year’s NCLR’s Anniversary Celebration. Hearing so many stories of folx’ journeys to seek justice – be it fighting conversation therapy or seeking asylum – and the ways in which NCLR made it all possible, made me and each of my identities feel seen and grateful for being in that radical, loving space. — Lupita
The NCLR Board of Directors will present our second awardee with this great honor on May 30, 2020 at the NCLR Anniversary Celebration in May.