Seventeen-year old Sameer Jha may be young, but already a respected activist and author of a #1 Amazon Hot New Release, we surmise he will be the most ambitious teenager you read about today, this week, this month, even this year! With Read This, Save Lives, published earlier this month, Sameer explains how he has turned challenges into opportunities and, with the goal of getting his book in the hands of educators nationwide, it’s easy to see that he’s far from done.
How has the buzz been for your book since publishing? What kind of interest have you had? Any exciting events coming since publication?
I have been working on this book for almost a year. Initially, I decided to release it only as an e-book to keep costs down and make it reasonable for teachers. The e-book was published last Monday [September 10, 2018], and the response was wonderful. Immediately a lot of people started asking for a paperback version so they could give to teachers in their school district and add it to community, school, and church libraries. It has been amazing to see it reach a #1 new release for Amazon, and even be the bestselling book, in multiple categories like LGBT Textbooks, LGBT Biographies & Memoirs, and LGBT Demographic Studies.
I am really excited and humbled that what I wrote is resonating with adults, who are willing to support the movement to make our schools more accepting and inclusive of diversity. I just found out that a group of parents are planning to start a fundraiser so they can buy and gift this book to every single teacher in our city. With 42 schools, and 35,000 students–that will help improve conditions for LGBTQ+ youth in many classrooms in Fremont, CA.
What’s next for you? Another book?
I will definitely be writing more books. I plan to major in Linguistics, as well as Gender/LGBT Studies in college. In fact, this book has a heavy emphasis on how language/semantics both stem from and contribute to anti-LGBTQ+ bias. I also share how choosing the right words and phrases can go a long way towards creating acceptance. I describe the history of words like queer and how they have evolved, why using ‘gay’ as a slur is problematic, common language mistakes that should be avoided, as well as how and when to use gender inclusive pronouns etc. Eventually, I would like to become a professor, so I know I’ll be doing lots of research and writing more books on these subjects.
READ THIS, SAVE LIVES is brimming with critical terminology, real world case studies, expert interviews, and cutting edge research from some of the top LGBTQ+ rights organizations in the country. Get ready to be inspired by one of the few books on LGBTQ+ youth safety written by a teen.
SAMEER JHA is a 16-year-old high school student who has been named one of the top 10 trans youth activists in America, and is among the ‘30 under 30’ activists changing the world internationally. After being bullied throughout elementary and middle school, Sameer founded The Empathy Alliance to make schools safer for LGBTQ+ students like himself. Sameer educates on LGBTQ+ topics through keynotes, workshops, op-eds, radio shows, panels and events throughout the year. He has also collaborated on special projects with numerous organizations like Gender Spectrum, ACLU, GLAAD, and Frameline Films. Today, his nonprofit has become a national entity that has reached millions of people across America.
Sameer work has been covered by media outlets like The New York Times, New York Magazine, NPR, MTV, Logo TV, and The Mercury News. Sameer has been honored with numerous local and national awards for his impact on LGBTQ+ youth safety, including a Congressional Silver Medal. In 2017, Sameer served as Youth Grand Marshal for Oakland Pride, America’s most diverse and family friendly pride celebration.
Sameer is a Youth Ambassador for the Human Rights Campaign, as well as The Tyler Clementi Foundation and Trikone. He sits on the National Student Council for GLSEN, and on the Mayor of Oakland’s LGBTQ+ task force. Sameer has distilled all his learnings into this book for teachers to help them create more inclusive classrooms and put an end to anti-LGBTQ+ bullying in schools.
Visit www.theempathyalliance.org to learn more.