Founder of The Trevor Project Headlines UMKC Pride Breakfast

The event raises funds to support LGBTQ students at UMKC
Two people sit on stage at the Pride Breakfast

Kindness can literally save lives. That was the vital message delivered to the audience at this year’s UMKC Pride Breakfast by Peggy Rajski, Academy Award-winning director and founder of the LGBTQ youth crisis-intervention organization The Trevor Project.

“Just to have one accepting adult in a queer-questioning child’s life, it can cut suicide risk in half,” Rajski said. “Anyone can be that one supporting adult; you just never know. I’m encouraging everyone to just be kind.”

Rajski won an Academy Award as director of the short film TREVOR, about a young teen whose world is turned upside down when word spreads at school that he might be gay.

“I am a white, straight, cisgender woman and people were surprised that I made this movie about this young gay boy and that it felt authentic. But what I would say is, I know the feeling just like everyone else does when people are shaming you for who you are,” Rajski said. “Imagine if you had everyone telling you that you are worthless, that they don’t want to be around you because you’re toxic, I just had hope that people would think about how those words would make someone feel.”

After the film’s release, she discovered there weren’t any nationwide suicide prevention crisis services available to support gay and questioning youth. In response, she founded The Trevor Project. The project, launched in 1998, receives roughly 200,000 calls annually. 

Since 2008, the Pride Breakfast has raised funds to support LGBTQ students at UMKC and serves as a way for the university to show support for, and commitment to, LGBTQ students on campus. This year’s breakfast raised over $110,000, which will go directly to supporting LGTBQ students on campus. 

“Over the years this breakfast has raised more than $500,000 in scholarships, emergency aid and support for students,” Chancellor Mauli Agrawal said at the event. “UMKC has a culture of care that we uphold. Faculty, staff and administration believe that each student has a unique value and is worthy of our time, attention and respect. I am honored to be a part of an institution that has that as its core value.”  

UMKC partnered with local Kansas City nonprofit SAVE, Inc. to bring Rajski to Kansas City. SAVE, Inc. provides permanent, transitional, and emergency housing services to those with HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, mental health challenges and more. 

Published: Apr 27, 2022

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