In a living room in Austin in 1990, Out Youth began with this simple idea:
Creating safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ youth to come together and talk about what they were going through to change and save lives.
For the past 30 years, Out Youth has loved inviting their clients, their families, and their community into their living room. But now, for the first time, they are inviting us into their living rooms so that we can continue their life-changing and life-saving work.
Out Youth is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to providing educational, mental, emotional, physical, and social developmental support to LGBTQIA+ youth. From 4:30-8:30pm Sundays and Wednesdays, Out Youth provides a safe space called the Drop-In Center for all LGBTQIA+ youth and allies age 12-18 to drop in and have access to a variety of free services. These include individual counseling, support groups, arts and crafts, snacks, and a space to socialize and make friends. Therapists are always available to discuss any life challenges with attending youth. The Drop-In Center is strictly youth only. The only authorized adults present are program and clinical staff, volunteers, and those scheduled for family counseling. Appointments for family counseling are available for parents with questions about how they can best support their LGBTQIA+ loved ones. The center also hosts The Jerry Strickland Jr. Memorial Library that features a large selection of LGBTQIA+ themed books, as well as the David Bohnett CyberCenter with available computers and free wi-fi.
Additionally, Out Youth has partnered with the Kind Clinic to provide K.Y.S.S. (Knowing Your Status is Smart) rapid-result testing for HIV/STI status with access to prevention counseling, referrals, and other resources. Testing is available every second Thursday of each month from 5-8pm, no appointment required.
Starting in the 2017-2018 school year, Out Youth, partnered with Communities in School of Central Texas and University of Texas Population Research Center, developed Be YOU (Young, Outspoken, Unbreakable): a program designed to promote mental and social wellness for middle and high school youth that are vulnerable to minority stress. The program is now available to schools, school districts, and community centers for purchase.
For more information regarding Out Youth, The Drop-In Center’s services and facilities, or the Be YOU program, please visit their website at outyouth.org.
—Bailey Moore, Shock the Vote ATX Staff Writer