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National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

Youth Speak Out: Billy Iannuzzi

A member of two prominent youth advocacy boards explains how leadership opportunities can help young people overcome experiences with bullying.

Time: 3:25 | Size: 3.2 MB


NCFY:  Welcome to Youth Speak Out, a podcast series from the Family and Youth Services Bureau. Today, we speak with a young person whose experiences on two youth advocacy boards helped him overcome a past full of bullying and rejection. Billy Ianuzzi was a young teenager when he came out to his family. And for years, he endured their emotional abuse and disapproval before running away to find a safer environment.

Billy ended up at Larkin Street Youth Services in San Francisco where a youth worker convinced him to enter an essay contest held by the National Network for Youth. He won, and the National Network invited him to attend a conference on youth homelessness in Washington, D.C.

BI:  It really was open arms. They were so easy to talk to. And, you know, I was a homeless youth. You know, I'm a homeless youth. And... they were talking to me like I was an actual person. 

Being on the board and talking to Senators and working in work groups to write proposals to, like, ask for funding to like help youth to get off the street was a really amazing experience. I love every minute of it. 

I really like the fact is that like I could be part of something to make a change. So that way my voice is heard. You know, I'm speaking on the behalf of youth that, you know, I know or youth that are going through hard times right now. And those youth can find resources to help them so they're not on the street. 

NCFY:  Billy now also serves on the Youth Advocacy Board at Larkin Street. 

BI:  I've been [on]... like three or four groups here in the city, trying to make change for the better. And going to city hall and talking to supervisors of each district of San Francisco. We're working a lot with getting staff members involved with youth to better understand what diversity is and really find out what those trainings are going to look like. And right now we're fighting for, you know, a space for youth ... for queer youth to go. 

I view myself as, you know, a leader to help other youth be okay and not feel scared and not feel like they're alone in all of this when they have somebody. They have somebody in other youth leaders that are going on in the city right now, other people are here to help and really help them by like, you know, finding ... finding services. So they can access them and get them off the street and get them some jobs. It feels really good to be part of something, to finally be part of something that I can, you know, change. 

NCFY: To learn more about helping lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth overcome rejection and bullying, visit the National Clearinghouse on Families and Youth, online at