Zaya Wade and Lil Nas X are making it easier for queer and trans youths to explore their identities

April 30, 2021
Ed Brockenbrough

Today’s young people are the first modern generation who can see young, queer and trans celebrities like Zaya Wade, Lil Nas X, and JoJo Siwa living openly as themselves.

Ed Brockenbrough recently told USA Today said this is making it easier for many young people, especially Black youth, to explore their identities. 

"Having out Black queer and trans celebrities like (Lil Nas X) and (Wade) in the social media age is really crucial for modeling Black queer and trans self-determination for young people," Brockenbrough told USA Today. "We can have panel discussions and articles and books, but to have young people who are taking center stage in the realms that other young people are really sort of using to explore their identity is crucial."  

Brockenbrough, a Penn GSE associate professor, is an expert in teacher education and LGBTQ+ issues in the classroom. He also serves as the co-chair for the Philadelphia chapter of GLSEN.

While Brockenbrough says the awareness of Wade and others is important, so is inclusive education, which should start in elementary school.

"The needs with elementary teachers often revolve around helping those teachers understand that elementary-age children are developing their sexualities and their gender identities," Brockenbrough told USA Today. "It's actually not too early to talk to first graders about these issues, but we just have to find age-appropriate language."

Read the full USA Today piece here.