Local Erie LGBT 9th grader chosen as winner in national contest celebrating LGBTQ literature

NEW YORK, NY - June 9, 2021 - Today, Hope in a Box and Channel Kindness, Born This Way Foundation's storytelling platform, are excited to announce that Zee Taylor, a 10th-grade student from Tennessee, has been chosen as the winner of their national contest to celebrate LGBTQ-inclusive literature.

Leading up to Pride Month, the nonprofits teamed up to invite students to share how LGBTQ-inclusive books and stories have inspired them. The competition was open to students in grades K-12 from across the country. Nearly 70 students from 20 states submitted essays and videos responding to one of three prompts. A panel of educators and editors from Hope in a Box and Born This Way Foundation selected the winners.

Taylor, who attends Siegel High School in Murfreesboro, was named the grand prize winner for writing a letter of hope, resilience, and encouragement to her younger self. She will receive a $500 cash prize and her essay will be featured on ChannelKindness.org on June 9th.

According to Joe English, Founder and Executive Director of Hope in a Box, "It was incredible to receive so many stories of hope, resilience, and compassion from students across the country. Zee's essay, in particular, shows how powerful it can be for a young person to deeply connect with a book or character -- in some cases, that connection can change or save a life."

Five other winners were also selected and will receive $100 gift cards to Barnes & Noble and have the opportunity to publish their essays and videos on ChannelKindness.org. The winners include:

"This past year has been mentally and emotionally taxing on many levels, especially for young people, and our research has proven how essential kindness is for our collective mental health and wellbeing," said Maya Smith, Executive Director of Born This Way Foundation. "It's important that we recognize the transformative impact that kindness can have on someone, and be there for one another as we work to create a kinder and braver world. Young people are the stewards of our future and the leaders of today, and we must continue to be their allies by uplifting their voices and validating their emotions."

For further information, photos, the winning entries, and/or to set up interviews, please contact Sydney Masters at 212-987-6804 / Sydney@RCouriHayCPR.com.

Hope in a Box is the nation's largest early-intervention program building LGBTQ-inclusive schools. The nonprofit provides educators with boxes of LGBTQ-inclusive books, access to the largest library of LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum available in the US, and data-backed training and mentorship. They work with nearly 500 schools across all 50 states, reaching 70,000 students. https:www.hopeinabox.org

Born This Way Foundation is a non-profit co-founded and led by Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, supports the mental health of young people and works with them to build a kinder and braver world. Through high-impact programming, youth-led conversations, and strategic, cross-sectoral partnerships, the Foundation aims to make kindness cool, validate the emotions of young people, and eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health. Learn how the Foundation encourages people to practice kindness towards themselves and their communities at bornthisway.foundation and its storytelling platform Channel Kindness at channelkindness.org.

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