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Sam Longa biology teacher at Standley Lake High School in Westminster, Colorado, has recently been honored by HRC as a 2020 Upstander at their Time to Thrive conference in Washington, D.C.

Long is the co-founder of Colorado Transgender/Nonbinary Educators Network. The community-organizing group works to support  transgender and nonbinary teachers and others working in the education system.

OUT FRONT was introduced to Long in the summer of 2019 as he was pursuing the chance to be the first self-identified out, trans astronaut. Through his educational experience both as a student and as an instructor, Long has taken an activist’s approach to challenging to lack of inclusion for LGBTQ folks in the fields of STEM careers.

Leading by example, as Long is out about his gender identity with all of the faculty and students are Standley Lake, he has created a safe space for students to show up to class as their authentic selves. Representation comes in all facets of the word, and often times, Long is the first trans person a student may be meeting. However, he takes that responsibility to heart and wants to inform and educate in more areas than high school biology.

“In my classes in general, I feel that my presence and one of the things I am to them is an example of a trans person who is happy and successful,” Long told OUT FRONT last year. “Being out with my students has been huge and affirming for me, and I know it’s changing the lives of some of my students.”

As HRC hosted their seventh annual Time to Thrive event, Long was honored alongside actress Jamie Clayton, known most recently for her role in Showtime’s “The L Word: Generation Q.”

“Sam Long perfectly represents the values that Time to THRIVE stands for, and we’re thrilled to be honoring him at this year’s conference,” said HRC President Alphonso David. “The conference was founded to provide training and resources to educators and other youth-service providers across the country, ensuring that they have the tools they need to teach and serve all youth. That’s exactly what Sam does every day in the classroom and beyond.”