Youth OUTreach 

Although not everyone knows while they're still a teenager that they are homosexual, bisexual, or transgender, many do.  And for these young people, growing up can be much harder due to the isolation, ostracism, and negative pressures they frequently face.


SECTION CONTENTS 


What is Youth OUTreach?

LAMBDA makes youth issues a priority, and youth representation at the highest levels of LAMBDA a requirement.  LAMBDA protects lesbigay youth by giving them a voice, listening to them, and then working to address their concerns.  Historically, gay youth issues have been taboo and ignored.  Youth OUTreach strives to insure that gay youth are given an opportunity to participate in gay community events and forums.  Youth OUTreach volunteers and participants work year-round to articulate what it's like to grow up "different" to non-gay teens and adults through our speakers' bureau and various educational campaigns.  For many years, LAMBDA has served as a source of information to local and state media on stories concerning LGBT youth, bringing their issues to the forefront:

  • Gay youth suicide and other self-destructive behaviors
  • Violence prevention and safety
  • Finding support
  • The need for access to accurate information about sexuality, in general, and sexual orientation & gender identity, in particular
  • Runaway/throwaway prevention & assistance
  • Family acceptance and support
  • Safe environments in which to learn
  • Opportunities for involvement
  • Youth representation
  • Skills-building and leadership development

LAMBDA has a long history of working with young queer people.  We speak before hundreds of young people through our Lesbian and Gay Speakers Bureau with the the dual goals of providing positive models for out and questioning youth, and educating young minds about what it is like to be queer -- in the hopes that they will be less likely to bash or taunt us. 

Among the program's aims, Youth OUTreach works to train LesBiGayTrans and friendly teens in skills that will allow them to seek jobs, to reassure them that they can make valuable contributions to a society that constantly reinforces its homophobia, and to boost their self-esteem. Taking care of themselves and responsible decision-making is also important, such as by minimizing risk-taking and through choosing abstinence or consistently using condoms for sex, and we begin by helping teens to respect and protect themselves.  LAMBDA uses youth in virtually all areas, including office work, speakers bureau, and fundraising.  Special positions for youth were created to allow young queers to be represented on LAMBDA's Board of Trustees. 

If you are interested in learning more about this or other LAMBDA programs e-mail us at youth@lambda.org or write to:

LAMBDA
Attn: Youth OUTreach
216 S. Ochoa St.
El Paso, TX 79901 

Youth OUTreach works with other LAMBDA departments, such as the Anti-Violence Project and the HATE-CRIME NETWORK to: 

  • create safer and more inclusive environments for sexual minority youth
  • provide access to accurate information concerning sexual orientation, AIDS, and gender issues
  • promote responsible and healthy behaviors among lesbigay and transgender youth
  • reduce the damaging effects of misinformation and homophobia in our society and in our homes
  • provide learning and growing opportunities to our queer, queer-friendly, and questioning youth

Lesbigay youth facts

  • It is estimated that in the U.S., a teen takes their own life every 5 hours because they are gay, bisexual, transgender, or lesbian, and cannot deal with the added stresses that society puts upon them.
  • Several studies have found that approximately 40% of homeless "street" teens self-identify as gay/lesbian yet there are relatively few resources specifically aimed at meeting their needs.
  • Homeless GLBT teens face increased risk for a variety of health and emotional problems.
  • GLB youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than non-gay teens, according to a 1989 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study.
  • The same study found that 30 percent of successful teen suicides are by gay or lesbian youths.
  • GLBT youth are attacked at alarmingly high rates nationwide.
  • Queer youth are more likely to be attacked physically.
  • Queer youth are at increased risk for drug/alcohol problems and dropping out of school.
  • An estimated 40% of street kids are lesbian or gay.  These youth have either run away or been thrown out of their homes.  Many get involved with prostitution and other abusive behaviors as a way of surviving
  • Many bisexual, gay and lesbian youth drop out of school due to harassment or low self-esteem, and fear of "being found out."
  • Studies have found that more than 25% of gay and lesbian youth have severe drug and alcohol problems.
  • Those who believe they don't know someone who is gay are more likely than those who do to reject equal rights for, and equal treatment of, GLBT people.
  • Early exposure to diversity and sexuality issues helps to reduce prejudice and homophobia, including internalized homophobia which often leads to self-destructive behaviors.
  • Teenagers and young adults are among the leading perpetrators of anti-gay violence.

Anti-gay violence and bullying

It has been long known that gay teens are greatly affected by homophobia. LAMBDA is working to make schools and gay teens' lives safer.

 

What if your best friend was attacked because someone thought they were gay or lesbian?

What if YOU were harassed?

We want to hear from you.

Use this special form to tell us about what is happening to you or your friends.

All reports are confidential (we won't tell anyone that you told us, unless someone's in danger) and you don't have to give your name.  LAMBDA is a safe place to ask questions and get support.

21-and-under Email Group

LAMBDA sponsors A-Safe-Place, a unique email list for gay, bi, transgender, and questioning youth to share personal experiences and questions/answers in a safe, friendly, non-sexual, non-threatening environment.

Special Activities

Volunteering is a fun way to meet new people and do something good for the community.  You can use your computer to help victims of hate crimes by joining the Hate Crime Network (HCN).

Want to organize activities in your own area?  Contact us -- we can help you! 

Youth OUTreach Materials

Youth OUTreach provides information for GLBT/straight/questioning teens and their parents, families & friends.  Contact LAMBDA for printed lists of books and materials, many of which are available in the LAMBDA lending library.

In addition to basic text, some of these documents are also available in portable document format (PDF). In order to read PDF documents, you will need to have an Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. For information about how to download the Acrobat Reader (it's free) please visit the Adobe web site. Please note that the PDF files may include forms and exhibits omitted from the text version. Documents available in PDF format are denoted with the PDF icon:

For help viewing PDFs, click on this logo:

The following resources are available online: 
 

The following resources, currently available only by snail mail, will soon be available in PDF: 

  • Youth OUTreach posters
  • Safe Zone area signs
  • Other youth-related materials for creating a safe space for queer youth in counselor's and doctor's offices, schools, etc.

Youth Resources

Reading about sexual orientation can be very helpful.  There are many lists of books for gay youth at LAMBDA.  Many can be found at your local Community Center library.  There are many sites on the Internet that are geared for gay youth.  Youth OUTreach also has tips for safely surfing the Web. 

Parents and friends can find support and information by contacting P-FLAG, a support organization.  National Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) and other religious/spiritual organizations can also be excellent resources. 

Teachers, administrators, and others can find resources at LAMBDA to help them create safe schools for queer and questioning teens.  email us

Volunteer Opportunities

For comments, assistance, or questions contact: Youth OUTreach.

To complete our survey, click here

  

Copyright 2002-2005 LAMBDA GLBT Community Services  All Rights Reserved.