ASJA Launches Essay Contest for LGBTQ+ Youth

The American Society of Journalists and Authors is pleased to announce an essay contest for LGBTQ+ individuals who are 13 to 25 years old. Awards of up to $200 will be given for those submitting superlative personal essays about how gender identity or sexual orientation has affected their mental health or experience with mental health services.

Deadline for entry is Nov. 1.

ASJA has also recently distributed 15 grants for articles written and published by independent, professional writers. These articles have focused on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth and the costs of accessing appropriate health care.

“Due to high rates of depression and suicide attempts within the LBGTQ+ communities, as reported by the CDC and other entities, this is an extremely pertinent and timely topic that mainstream media outlets need to address,” says Sherry Beck Paprocki, ASJA’s immediate past president and grant manager. “Over the last year, leaders in ASJA have been pleased to offer mini-grants that have encouraged publication on this topic. Now we are looking forward to hearing from younger writers during the youth essay competition, which is a second phase of the grant process.”

A team of ASJA members and professional writers will judge each entry received by the Nov. 1 deadline.  Essays do not need to be published, though previous publication is not a barrier to entering the contest. Winners will be notified on or before Jan. 7, 2019. Entries can be sent to asjaessay@gmail.com.

“I’m so excited about hearing directly from LGBTQ+_youth about this topic,” says Emily Paulsen, ASJA and grant advisory council member. “Their perspective and experiences can help all of us—parents, health care providers and the general public—respond more compassionately and effectively to their needs and reduce the health disparities they face.”

Earlier this year, ASJA awarded mini-grants to15 freelance, professional writers for reported stories about the health care issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. Grants were for articles assigned by editors of large regional or national publications. Links to those articles will soon be available at ASJA.org.

This is the first time ASJA has offered mini-grants for a national reporting project, and the program has been wildly successful.

“Obtaining funds that can be used to supplement generally low fees paid to independent writers has been a godsend to ASJA and the professional writers who received grants throughout this process,” says Paprocki. “I hope that ASJA can provide additional grants in the future.”

The American Society of Journalists and Authors is a 1,200-member non-profit association that serves as a resource and voice for independent writers. The ASJA celebrates its 70th anniversary this year.

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