Ask a Genius: Amit Paley on how to be an ally to LGBTQ youth



Myles Ma

Myles Ma

Senior Reporter

Myles Ma is a senior reporter at Policygenius, where he covers personal finance and insurance and writes the Easy Money newsletter. His expertise has been featured in The Washington Post, PBS, CNBC, CBS News, USA Today, HuffPost, Salon, Inc. Magazine, MarketWatch, and elsewhere.

Published January 18, 2018 | 2 min read

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Welcome to the latest edition of Ask a Genius, our regular series of interviews with brilliant people. Today we're featuring Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of the Trevor Project. The Trevor Project provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people, including through a 24/7 telephone hotline, online chat and text messaage. Hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to the Trevor Project since its founding in 1998.

Describe the work you do briefly.

I lead The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people.

What problem are you trying to solve?

We’re dedicated to ending suicide amongst LGBTQ youth.

What led you to tackle this problem & not something else?

I’m gay and know what it’s like to feel alone and hopeless.

How does what you do help people?

Our work is entirely impact-focused, making sure we are helping as many LGBTQ youth as possible when they are in crisis or contemplating suicide.

How would you spend $1 billion?

Expand our life-saving services globally so every single LGBTQ youth in the world would have access.

What's one fact or idea you think more people should know?

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among all young people in the U.S., and gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are nearly five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Transgender people are at even higher risk.

What's one thing you want to accomplish in the next month? Year? Decade?

Double the number of LGBTQ youth we are serving in the next year, and reach every LGBTQ young person in the world who needs us over the next decade.

Who do you think is a genius & what’s one thing you would ask them?

My partner Jonathan. He is both a genius and a saint.

What is one thing readers can do today to help support struggling LGBTQ youth?

You can help LGBTQ youth by supporting The Trevor Project, both financially with donations and by volunteering on our crisis services. You can learn more about both at

Another way is to make sure you are being an ally to LGBTQ young people you know, by providing them with messages of support and letting them always know that they are not alone.

This interview was lightly edited for clarity.

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Image: The Trevor Project