Don’t be fooled by it’s title, the Attic Youth Center, offers so much more than just a place for LGBTQIA+ youth to hang out. I even love the backstory of this place. It was originally started as an eight-week program, by two graduate students back in 1993. Hosted in the attic of a building, the kids wouldn’t let it end. Since that time, it has grown to being a significant resource for area youth.
I think what I love about it the most is that the heart of this organization is to help kids to grow as citizens who are engaged in the world around them and have a voice. So, not only are there support groups, counseling, case management, healthy choices education, and life skills opportunities, the kids work on community projects together with opportunities for leadership roles. Plus, the website has inspirational stories and lists of resources.
And, as if that’s not enough, the Bryson Institute offers various trainings regarding current “best practices” for working with LGBTQIA+ youth. You can contact them, explain the intended audience and needs, and they can customize a training for your organization. Clearly, this organization is worth checking out!
Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs, are typically found in high schools and colleges. The GSA Network supports Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs for students in high school and college settings. These clubs are incredibly important because I have found that they are often the first safe place in a teen’s life where they can let down their guard, express their true-selves and feel real-life support that they haven’t found in other parts of their young lives.
As I described in my post about GLSEN (another organization that provides support to GSA’s), the GSA Network is one of two organizations that helps to set-up, advocate for, and provide resources to individual GAS clubs, The GSA Network operates the GSA Network of California, which connects over 900 clubs across the state, the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites 40 statewide networks of GSA clubs, and GSAs Unite, an online campaign and petition platform supporting youth organizers across the country. (As far as I can tell, GSA’s were originally orchestrated and supported by the GSA Network, originating in California. It seems that GLSEN has stepped in as another agency that supports these clubs.)
If there isn’t a GSA club available in your (or your child’s) school, and you would like to start one, they can help you do this. They also provide ongoing resources to help run a successful, healthy, supportive club.
The Mazzoni Center’s mission is to provide quality, comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBT-focused environment, while preserving the dignity and improving the quality of life of the individuals they serve. Their offers a full array of primary health care services, mental and behavioral health services, and LGBT legal services, as well as HIV and STD testing, food bank and housing subsidies for families and individuals affected by HIV, support groups, outreach and education programs. They also have specialist in transgender issues.
A prominent feature of the Mazzoni Center is the fact that they host the annual Philly TransWellness Conference. There is a professional training track (different ones for people in the counseling, medical, and legal professions) that involves paying a reasonable fee. However, the bulk of the conference is aimed at directly meeting the needs of people within the trans community…and it’s FREE!
Hosted at the Philadelphia Convention Center, the conference is massive and the number of attendees continues to grow every year. The website boasts that they are, “The Largest Free Trans-Specific Conference in the World,” and I believe it. While there are cicgendered attendees (people who don’t identify as trans), we are certainly in the minority and it’s really thrilling. (OK, at first it’s intimidating, for fear of accidentally offending someone, and then thrilling!) To borrow from Harry Potter, a cisgendered person at the conference might initially feel like a muggle would at Hogwarts, which hopefully means that a trans person feels like a wizard who fits right in. The bathrooms are labeled as being open to any gender identity and everyone walks around with name tags that includes the pronouns that they prefer people use for them. If you can…go, even if you are neither trans or a professional…and just want to learn more.
The Main Line Youth Alliance is a teen/young adult (ages 14-22) drop in center in on Friday nights Wayne, PA. They have a guest speaker and then hang out time. MYA provides a safe and healthy environment for their LGBTQIA+ youth. Meetings are virtually every Friday evening from 7-9:30 pm. There is no charge for admission and like any group, where teens gather, snacks are served! From time to time, they welcome parents to join in for an activity of fundraising or discussions.