BOSTON (WWLP) – It was a packed house Thursday on Beacon Hill for a Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth event.

For the first time since the pandemic, the commission on LGBTQ Youth gathered at the State House to advocate for further protections and released their recommendations for the year. Activists made it known, just because we live in Massachusetts, we cannot rest on our laurels and more work needs to be done.

Members of the LGBTQ community and allies spoke on the rise of Anti-LGBTQ legislation around the country and Thursday’s recommendations are meant to support those most vulnerable.

Shaplaie Brooks, the Executive Director of the commission, pointed to three of the recommendations: The creation of a foster Care review board that would hold all child welfare agencies accountable, passing the Healthy Youth Act, and standardizing data on sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.

“It is hard work, given that we are fighting what seems like an uphill battle especially with all the anti-LGBTQ legislation and attacks, even here in Massachusetts,” said Brooks.

Awards were also given out to student leaders and Sophia Aquino from Easthampton High School was honored for her work, “As a BIPOC person being a role model for people with inter sexual identities, whether they’re disabled and queer, queer and brown, or disabled and brown, representing those people and speaking out for them, trying to give them a voice through me is very empowering.”

Members of the commission were also sworn in Thursday. Massachusetts is the only state with a LGBTQ Youth Commission. Brooks said they are working on helping other states create their own commissions.