LGBTQ youth who are making a difference: Miguel Jasso-Ruiz

By : Ryan Williams-Jent
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18 | Bisexual | He/Him/His

Sarasota native Miguel Jasso-Ruiz is “annoying positive,” he muses. He believes optimism is the key to happiness, an outlook that he says has served him well throughout each of his endeavors.

His passion for serving the community began in high school, where he became vice president for his local chapter of UnidosNow. The organization’s high school program seeks to elevate the quality of life for the growing Hispanic/Latino community. It does so by inspiring participants to become agents of change through college preparation, leadership training and meaningful community service. “Basically we connected minority groups to resources,” Jasso-Ruiz explains, including those in the LGBTQ community. “I absolutely love giving back.”

In part, it’s what helped lead him to ALSO Youth in 2016. The Sarasota organization provides peer support services, educational programs, advocacy and referrals for LGBTQ and ally youth ages 13 to 21.

“ALSO Youth has been an amazing organization that has played a huge part in my life as I transitioned from being a kid to a young adult,” he says. “Prior to being connected with their resources I was in the dark trying to navigate the tricky trials of sexual identity with my limited knowledge.”

He soon began volunteering with ALSO at numerous social events, leading to his position as a youth ambassador to ensure everyone at its center felt at ease. Most recently, Jasso-Ruiz served as co-president and board liaison for the ALSO’s Youth Advisory Panel. It’s in that position that he advocated for the inclusion of gender identity protections for students in Sarasota and relayed questions and concerns from youth to ALSO’s leadership. His term led to the organization naming him one of two “Outstanding Youth of the Year” recipients for 2019.

“It can be difficult to get connected with people that are like you in Sarasota,” he explains. “I’m just grateful because it’s so important to have a space like ALSO where people can progress through their adolescence with the proper resources to make decisions.”

Although he’s now a freshman at the University of Central Florida, Jasso-Ruiz retains his status as an ALSO Youth ambassador. He hopes to find new organizations to continue focusing on advocacy in Orlando as he maintains his Sarasota connections. “I plan to do it all with an upbeat demeanor and genuine smile,” he adds.

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