By Youth, For Youth
Youth Advisory Council (YAC)
PFLAG Youth Advisory Council, also known as YAC, is here to serve LGBTQI+ kids 13 and younger and their families. We give out resources and helpful information through our email and social medias, create events that are supportive, fun, and educational, and help bring kids and families together in support of each other. The council consists of YAC members ages 13-18, who volunteer their time and energy to help and serve the next generation of kids.
Trinity Cotten (left) Co-Founder of PFLAG Youth Advisory Council of Jacksonville Trinity Cotten is the Co-Founder of PFLAG Youth Advisory Council also known as YAC. She has been running the council with her sister Alexandra since July 12, 2018. Trinity is also a current board member on the Board of PFLAG of Jacksonville since October 2019. She was previously the Secretary to the Board of PFLAG from October 2019-September 2020. Trinity started YAC because she didn't have a place to go to meet other kids like herself and her parents didn't have other parents to talk to about having young LGBTQ+ children. Just because you didn't have something growing up doesn't always mean you want to do something about it. So, why did Trinity want to do something about it?
"I've always loved children and I like to tell people that I've been planning my own family since the age of 5. I feel that I have helped other children while also being a child for as long as I can remember, but technically I've only been helping kids since 2017. My sister and I were asked to help coach little children how to swim and how to become better swimmers." Trinity taught children ages 5-13 how to swim from 2017-present. Trinity and her sister did stop coaching when the Covid-19 Pandemic came about in 2020. Trinity participated in the Coming Out Monologues in 2017 and 2018. She was only 15 and 16 years old.
“The Coming Out Monologues helped me to be comfortable and proud in my identity. Originally, Tina Vaughn-Wardle asked me to do the Coming Out Monologues when I was 12. Not long after I had met her at my first PFLAG Chapter Meeting where I stood up frightened and said that I was gay, in front of all the people at the chapter meeting." Trinity graduated high school June 2020. Her mom had pulled Trinity and her sister from school when they were in second grade and kindergarten. Trinity's parents have home-schooled them ever since.
"Being home-schooled was one of the best things my parents have done for me. It has given me the time and freedom to follow my passions and learn and do things I wouldn't have learned or been able to do if I was at a brick and mortar school. Because I was home-schooled my sister and I had the time to start YAC and to do the Coming Out Monologues. I will be forever grateful for the time I've had learning from my mom and dad and all the other fantastic teachers I've picked up along the way." Trinity has been writing stories and books since 2014. She started by writing books for little kids as presents. This ability to write has transferred over to YAC quite well.
"What we all tend to forget sometimes is that children will one day become adults. Those adults will go on to be in every job and eventually will be running our governments with their own ideas, personalities, and agendas. Some of them will go on to become parents, who will also need support. To help our LGBT+ children and parents now will help their future be a brighter one. Ultimately, we all want to be loved and supported for who we uniquely are and who we will grow to be. My mission is to help children and that's exactly what I'm doing."
Alexandra Cotten (right) Co-Founder
PFLAG Youth Advisory Council of Jacksonville
Alexandra Cotten is the Co-Founder of PFLAG Youth Advisory Council of Jacksonville, also known as YAC. Alexandra’s pronouns are She/Her or They/Them. Alexandra works with LGBTQI+ kids under the age of 13 and their families through YAC. At the young age of 14 Alexandra started YAC with her sister Trinity, to ensure all kids under the age of 13 have the ability to experience safe, loving, and supportive people to talk to, and events to attend with their families.
YAC provides helpful resources and events for parents and kids to discover each other in order to make this world feel a little less lonely as LGBTQI+ kids and families. “I believe the work I do through YAC for our community is going to ensure that kids within our community and hopefully beyond know that they are not alone in their identity. It is immensely important to me that no child in this world feels alone or unsafe in who they are or who they want to be as they grow. In this world especially, we need to help, protect, and support youth and kids as best we can.” YAC is made for just that!
Alexandra has been working with kids of all ages since 2017. She has also been participating in community non-profit work since 2016. PFLAG Youth Advisory Council of Jacksonville was approved by the board of PFLAG of Jacksonville on July 12, 2018. Since then Alexandra has been working hard on making YAC exactly what kids under the age of 13 and their families need today and continuing to make changes as YAC grows towards the future.
“YAC is everything I could have wanted as a kid. We continue to make big and small changes the more we know and the more we talk to kids who are a part of YAC. My favorite part of being a part of this council is seeing kids find friends in a safe and loving environment. Knowing that just one other kid knows that they are not alone and that there are other kids who can relate and identify with who they are is truly incredible to see. One day hopefully YAC will not be needed anymore. That is my ultimate goal for YAC. In this case not being needed would be the best thing that could happen. Knowing that our world could and hopefully will change that much motivates me to do the best I can for the years that I am able. We as YAC are Youth helping kids, meanwhile being the change that this world needs.”