Announces Lauren Neil as its first Youth Correspondent! is honored to announce the appointment of its first Youth Correspondent: Lauren Neal, who served as an intern for the Matthew Shepard Foundation this summer and worked to provide innovative and timely content for MatthewsPlace. Lauren, a rising junior at Brown University in Providence, RI, focuses her studies in the departments of Theatre Arts & Performance Studies and Modern Culture & Media; while maintaining a vested interest in literature, foreign language, critical race and queer theory, and computer science. On Brown’s campus, Lauren participates in activist organizations for queer students and students of color, as well as pursuing creative endeavors in theatre, film, and digital media; a culmination of her desire to interrogate the intersection of the arts, technology, and social justice. is designed to provide young people with the resources they need to both survive in the world and make a difference. It provides a wealth of materials, from moderated chats and podcasts to regular columns by notable individuals in the GLBTQQ and allied community. Most importantly, the site provides a comprehensive list of GLBTQQ youth friendly shelters, outreach centers, and empowerment programs in communities all across the country so that young people in either rural or urban areas know where they can go for help and information. It is important to us that a large portion of MatthewsPlace’s content is created by the young people it is designed to support.

When asked why she felt is so important, Lauren noted the following:

“ is a premiere source of information, support, and inspiration for LGBTQQ and allied youth. Part of our own work, as LGBTQ youth, should be to suture the gaps in knowledge of the history of sexual minorities, as well as make a steadfast effort to establish a notable presence of young people in the conversation and debate surrounding LGBTQ protection and equality. The palpable resources of the Internet must be tapped and directed in a manner that is beneficial to the education, empowerment, and inspiration of people, youth in particular. is paramount to both progressing youth access to underrepresented and/or marginalized voices and their stories and providing a platform for LGBTQQ and allied youth to produce and publish their own thoughts, ideas, and stories.

“I am committed to the notion that every story told and heard is another step in advancing the Matthew Shepard Foundation mission to replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. Words on are not just words: they are fireworks, explosive and powerful methods of increasing visibility of LGBTQ persons and the issues pertinent to their livelihood.”

Look for Lauren’s continued work on MatthewsPlace in the coming months!