BreakOUT! is a youth-led organization based in New Orleans that seeks to end the criminalization of LGBTI youth through grassroots organizing. Following the murder of Penny Proud, a 21-year-old Black trans* woman in New Orleans, BreakOUT! requested a rapid response grant to lead a media campaign and public demonstrations to highlight the alarming rates of violence that Black trans* women face.
Within days, a rapid grant from Urgent Action Fund enabled BreakOut! to launch a variety of community awareness raising activities, including purchasing a billboard in a heavily used part of New Orleans, lobbying local City Council members to implement Policy 402 to end discriminatory policing based on one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and hosting the first-ever trans* march in New Orleans led by trans* youth of color. The march drew over 150 people to the corner where Penny Proud was murdered and featured a press conference with speakers from the New Orleans trans* community as well as leaders from partner organizations. BreakOUT! was also able to popularize the hashtag, #MakePennyProud, which has been used to respond to other acts of violence against trans* women across the country as well as to lift up the accomplishments of trans* women.
“With UAF’s support, BreakOUT! has been able to impact thousands of people and lift the life of Penny Proud and Black trans* women in the South. ” – Wesley Ware, Co-Director, BreakOUT!
As a result of these activities, BreakOUT! was able to garner additional media coverage of the issues and push its own framework for increased jobs, housing, and education to keep trans* youth safe. As the organization’s Co-Director, Wesley Ware, said, “This project has been one of the most meaningful actions our organization has ever taken and contributed to one of our proudest moments. With UAF’s support, BreakOUT! has been able to impact thousands of people and lift up the life of Penny Proud and Black trans* women in the South.”