Snapshot: Elissa and Juliet

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Know the laws in your state that protect LGBT people and people living with HIV.
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ELISSA RIDENOUR, 18, senior at Pine-Richland High School, PA
Favorite class: Biology and English
Extracurricular: Musical theater school
Her family: “My family is very doofy and very acceptance-oriented. Having my family’s support means the world. I really don’t know where I would be without that.” After high school: “I plan to pursue a career in obstetrics and gynecology.” On having the support of her peers: “Seeing my peers there to support me has been very grand. I now know that there are people in this world who love me for who I am, no matter what, and that’s just really something great to know.”

JULIET EVANCHO, 18, senior at Pine-Richland High School, PA

Favorite class: AP Art
Extracurricular: “I write music.”
After high school: “I want to take a year off to become an activist for all trans issues, because they worth fighting for.” On being in the public eye: “I know how scared trans youth can be and how trapped they can feel. I want to show that there is hope.”
On school board members who voted for the anti-transgender policy: “They made it a lot harder for us to get up in the morning and get dressed and go to school.”

In September 2016, the Pine-Richland school district in Pennsylvania changed its once-inclusive bathroom policy under pressure from a few parents and anti- LGBT groups. Elissa and Juliet were no longer allowed in the girls’ bathroom. The next month, Lambda Legal sued the school district on Elissa and Juliet’s behalf. The district argued that the Constitution doesn’t protect transgender students. The lawsuit continues while Elissa and Juliet finish their senior year.