Ashley Hopkins-Benton (she/her/hers) is a senior historian and curator of social history at the New York State Museum. Her research and collections work focuses on LGBTQ+ history, women's history, immigration, and sculpture. She holds her M.A. in History Museum Studies from the Cooperstown Graduate Program and her B.A. in Art Education and Art Studio from SUNY Potsdam.
Yasmin Benoit is a British model, asexual activist, writer, and speaker. Described as the "unlikely face of asexuality" by Cosmopolitan Magazine, she quickly became a leading voice for the community after publicly coming out in 2017. She started the #ThisIsWhatAsexualLooksLike movement for diverse asexual visibility and representation and co-founded International Asexuality Day (April 6). Her unconventional approach to activism has been covered throughout British and international press, including Vogue, MTV, Sky News, Paper Magazine, Attitude Magazine, and BBC. This year, she launched the UK's first asexual rights initiative --- the Stonewall x Yasmin Benoit Ace Project --- in partnership with Stonewall. This year, she won "Campaigner of the Year" at the Rainbow Honours Awards.
Christine Hamlett (she/her/hers) is a black transgender woman who has worked fearlessly to make public schools safe for all students, especially those who are transgender and gender non-conforming. She earned an educational doctorate in the Department of Educational Leadership at Kean University in Union, New Jersey, in May 2019. Dr. Hamlett has been a classroom teacher of high school history for more than 25 years in the Newark Public School District. Dr. Hamlett received an M.A. from Montclair State University in Student Personnel Services. She worked for many years as a school counselor before assuming a Central Office post as Supervisor of Attendance. She received a State Certification in administration from Kean University. She retired from Newark Public Schools after serving the district for 42 years. Dr. Hamlett has been celebrated as a certified Trainer of Trainers by GLSEN. She facilitated and conducted many workshops throughout New Jersey training school leaders in the New Jersey Expedited Certification for Educational Leadership (NJEXCEL) Leadership Program. Dr. Hamlett is presently a board member of GLSEN Central New Jersey. Her research foci include educational leadership, diversity issues, and the inclusion of transgender and gender non-conforming students in our schools with equality, equity, and liberation.
Sue Henderson (she/her/hers) is a retired educator of 39 years. She first worked 12 years as a health, physical education, and driver education teacher, and then 27 years as a school counselor. She also coached freshman field hockey, varsity girls' tennis, and JV basketball and served as the head track coach even after retiring. She served on the GLSEN Board for 20 years and currently serves as a co-chair of the Central NJ board.
Rebekah Bruesehoff is a 15-year-old trans author and activist passionate about inclusion and authenticity. She stumbled into public advocacy when a picture of her holding a sign that said “I'm the Scary Transgender Person the Media Warned You About” went viral in 2017. Suddenly she had a platform, and she knew she needed to use it. Since then, she’s used that platform to connect with legislators, advocate for the representation of LGBTQ+ voices in books and media, and share her story as a trans athlete. In 2021, Rebekah co-authored A Kids Book About Being Inclusive. Her work has been featured by Disney, Nickelodeon, Time’s Kid of the Year, People Magazine, Good Morning America, Good Morning Britain, The Today Show, Teen Vogue, British Vogue, Forbes, USA Today, The Trevor Project, Human Rights Campaign and more. She’s even a Marvel superhero immortalized in her very own comic book. Whether in meetings with legislators, on the field hockey field, singing in the church choir, or on stage in front of 30,000 people, Rebekah inspires people of all ages and identities to show up fully as themselves and dare to make the world a better place.
River Hammell is a 20-year-old transmasculine nonbinary college student. I have been involved in running LGBTQ+ safe spaces as early as my sophomore year in high school. Deptford High School's GSA was dissolved, and I was an advocate for bringing it back to the campus. I served as the public student representative during my junior and senior year, working closely with our advisor, Kathleen Lennon, to create that missing space. Now, I serve as Stockton Pride Alliance's President, continuing to create that safe space while I pursue a bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies. I want to continue my ongoing goal of making safe LGBTQ+ safe spaces in my career by working with nonprofit organizations post-graduation.
My name is Sven (or Seven like the number). I’m non-binary and trans, and my pronouns are they/them/theirs. I am a part of this forum because it inspires me to see youth and adults come together in unity, celebrating each other's unique individual identities, building community, and learning new things. A little about me is that I like to do a lot! I’m a chef, grower, & green home and garden design consultant. I use the power of growing and cooking food to fight for food justice. I use my love of growing gardens to build sustainability & environmental equity for all. I also help people design green homes so they can live and flourish in healthier spaces. I'm a big advocate for LGBTQ youth and educate them about my work as well as LGBTQ+ topics like the History of Drag Kings. I do drag for fun and as a form of expression but I am looking into possibly performing and hosting soon too. I’m excited to meet and speak with y’all amazing human beings!
Freddie (he/him) is a 7th grader who is honored to be part of this panel for the GSA Forum! His favorite subject in school is social studies, he has three pet cats, and his dream is to become a music artist in the future. He loves to play guitar and hang out with his friends
Ajay (he/they) is an 8th grade student. He has identified as on the transgender spectrum since 6th grade. He is passionate about music, writing, acting, & art. He is very excited (and nervous) to be a panelist!