(San Francisco, CA, September 9, 2009)—The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) today announced that Stonewall Young Democrats honored NCLR Youth Project Director Jody Marksamer with their Youth Advocacy Award, which is presented to individuals who have championed the causes of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth and “who have made an extraordinary contribution to this all-too-often overlooked segment of our community.”

“Jody brings a relentlessness to his work that is inspiring,” said NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell. “Despite the odds or setbacks he is never defeated and if he is discouraged it never shows, he is always focused on finding the resources, the solution, the advocates, the answer for every challenge. While some of his most important contributions have been in assisting with the publication of wide-ranging reforms in state-run systems for youth, the most significant contributions he makes are much more personal. Jody gets calls from LGBTQ young people and their family members who are in very desperate situations—some in juvenile justice facilities in very remote areas. They are experiencing harassment and abuse, often placed in situations of grave risk. When these calls come in he pursues every possible option to provide help. Jody has literally saved lives.”

As a staff attorney and director of NCLR’s Youth Project, Marksamer oversees NCLR’s policy and advocacy work challenging the overrepresentation and disparate treatment of LGBTQ youth in child welfare and juvenile justice settings. He also coordinates the Equity Project, a collaborative project between NCLR, Legal Services for Children, and the National Juvenile Defender Center, working to ensure fairness and respect for LGBTQ youth in delinquency courts. Additionally, he co-founded the Bay Area Out of Home Youth Advocacy Council, a San Francisco-based advocacy effort in support of LGBTQ youth in foster care.

In 2006, Marksamer co-authored the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA) Best Practice Guidelines for Serving LGBTQ Out-of-Home Youth, the first comprehensive policy and practice guide for child welfare and juvenile justice professionals concerning LGBTQ youth.

Jody joined NCLR in 2003 as an Equal Justice Works Fellow. He received his J.D. from Northeastern University School of Law and B.A. from Wesleyan University.

“It is an honor to be acknowledged by the Stonewall Young Democrats for the work I do advocating on behalf of LGBTQ youth in state care,” said Marksamer. “Receiving this award furthers my commitment to advancing a model for achieving social change that places the voices of LGBTQ youth at the center of a much larger progressive movement.”

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.