Rick Mula

  • Hosted by Southern Poverty Law Center
  • Sponsored by Albert & Anne Mansfield Foundation
  • Service location Montgomery, Alabama
  • Law school University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School
  • Issue area Children/Youth, LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Fellowship class year 2015
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Rick reduced the harassment and discrimination that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth living in Alabama and Tennessee face in the education, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems, through education and advocacy.

Many LGBTQ young people face severe and pervasive bias, harassment, and violence in school, the child welfare system, and the juvenile justice system because of their gender or sexuality. These problems are more common in the rural South than in other regions of the United States, based on research conducted by GLSEN. Yet solutions to these problems are underfunded, with domestic LGBT philanthropy often directed to urban centers outside the South. This project helped to fill the significant gap in services for LGBTQ people living in the South while also focusing on youth, a particularly vulnerable segment of the LGBTQ community. 

Fellowship Highlights

In the past two years, Rick has:

  • Developed and delivered know-your-rights trainings to hundreds of youth in the South.
  • Developed and delivered LGBTQ cultural competency trainings to hundreds of youth services providers, including public school superintendents, principals, and teachers as well as child welfare and juvenile justice staff in Tennessee and Alabama.
  • Assisted in nationally important cases about the LGBTQ community at all levels of the federal courts, including cases about transgender students’ access to restrooms.
  • Developed potential lawsuits challenging anti-LGBT curriculum laws and laws restricting individuals’ ability to amend gender markers on their identity documents.


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