Cameron Samuels

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Cameron Samuels (they/them/theirs) organized nationally recognized efforts against book banning and LGBTQ+ internet censorship in the Katy Independent School District in Texas. Within months of once facing the school board alone, receiving no applause while other speakers stoked fear with bigotry, Samuels packed school board meetings and distributed hundreds of banned books to students across Texas. With the ACLU, Samuels filed legal action that resulted in the district unblocking queer internet resources like the Trevor Project and the Montrose Center. Later that year, President Barack Obama recognized Samuels for their efforts against book banning.

Samuels is now organizing a coalition of Students Engaged in Advancing Texas to demonstrate youth visibility in policymaking. In the Texas Legislature, SEAT has organized on the frontlines in opposition to legislation diminishing students' rights, authored bills increasing student representation in educational decisions, and developed amendments against the House Bill 900 book ban bill. With SEAT, Samuels has spearheaded grassroots opposition to anti-LGBTQ+ mandates in Texas school districts, organized events with high-profile creatives and policymakers, visited the White House to meet President Joe Biden and join federal efforts, and testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary for a hearing on book bans.

In 2022, Samuels was named the inaugural Youth Honorary Chair of Banned Books Week, a Seventeen Magazine Voice of the Year, an NBC Pride 30 trailblazer, and one of Teen Vogue's 21 Under 21 and GLAAD's 20 Under 20. This past year, Samuels received the Trailblazer Award from the Human Rights Campaign, was recognized in OutSmart as a hometown hero, and was honored as Pride Houston's Honorary Trendsetter Grand Marshal. In 2024, Samuels was a SXSW EDU panelist with best-selling author Angie Thomas for "How to Be a Freedom Fighter" on the unprecedented attacks on education and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

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