Get involved-Spotlight: OUT YOUTH
Out Youth was founded in 1990 by students in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Austin as a local support group for queer youth in crisis. Twenty years later, we’re the only organization in Central Texas specifically serving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth 12 to 19 years of age through our drop-in center, positive youth development programs, youth leadership opportunities, counseling programs, school-based support groups, and community education and outreach. In 2007, Out Youth launched the Texas Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Network to support the formation and maintenance of organizations statewide committed to the prevention of bullying, stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTQ youth in Texas schools.
Out Youth continues to be true to its mission: to promote the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social well-being of LGBTQ youth so that they can openly and safely explore and affirm their identities. Out Youth’s vision is that LGBTQ youth will receive the support needed to develop positive self-images, empower themselves, and become active citizens in their community.
Out Youth provides a safe, affirming, and confidential environment where youth are listened to, supported in good times and bad, and have a chance to learn about themselves and others. Straight-identified friends, allies and other youth supportive of Out Youth’s mission are also welcome. We believe that youth are the most qualified to define their own needs and interests, and we work with each individual to guide that process. Youth are also challenged to stretch themselves by learning information and skills that they believe will be truly useful in their lives. Most importantly, Out Youth is a place where youth are valued. Here, youth have the opportunity to give back to their communities and become part of the solution to the problems that most concern them.
Out Youth Programs and Services
Mental Health Counseling
Out Youth offers individual counseling, peer support, mentoring and education. All of these services are free and occur at our drop-in-center (the Out Youth house), which is open on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays from 4:30 to 8:30 pm.
Counseling: A licensed professional counselor, a master’s level social worker, and supervised master’s level interns provide individual counseling for youth age 12 to 19. Counseling sessions are available with staff and interns during the day Monday through Friday or during drop-in-center hours in the evenings.
Peer Support: Out Youth’s peer support groups are important in helping youth feel less isolated in dealing with difficulties related to sexual orientation and gender identity.
Educational and psycho-educational programming occur on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and / or Sundays and provide youth with information on such topics as sex, self-esteem, building healthy relationships, coming out, career and education planning, anger management, self-defense, and other resources for youth in the Austin area.
Community and Social Activities
Drop-In Center: Out Youth provides a safe place and mentoring opportunities for more than 200 LGBTQ youth and allies in Austin and Central Texas annually. The majority of programs and services are offered at the center.
Creative Arts: Throughout the year, Out Youth provides workshops in creative arts in areas such as singing, dancing, painting, photography, poetry, comedy, and theatrical performance to enhance the youth’s capacities and talents.
Social Gatherings and Events: Out Youth organizes an annual alternative prom and several other events planned, organized, and carried out by the youth with support from staff and volunteers. Out Youth also provides social gatherings such as cookouts throughout the summer, park and movie nights, and monthly birthday celebrations.
Community Education and Outreach
As the only organization serving LGBTQ youth in central Texas, Out Youth is frequently asked to provide training and education to groups. Trainings are usually presented by the Out Youth staff; youth and interns frequently participate in workshops and speak on panels. Out Youth has developed training materials, a web site, a video, and presentations, which are given to a variety of organizations.
Youth Leadership Development
The Youth Advisory Board and Youth Ambassadors Programs are leadership development programs developed at Out Youth by youth, volunteers, and staff. The programs are designed to provide opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills based on their own capacities, interests, and talents. Programs focus on individual well-being, leadership through civic engagement, creative arts, personal transformation, and nurturing healthy adolescent development, and emphasize six leadership areas: goal setting, communication, decision making, mental and physical well-being, creativity, and community engagement.
Texas GSA Statewide Network
In 2007, Out Youth launched the Texas Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Network to support the formation and maintenance of organizations statewide as a commitment to the prevention of bullying, stigmatization of and discrimination against LGBTQ youth in Texas schools. Members can access peer support, leadership development, and training through Out Youth’s Texas GSA Network in order to establish, sustain, and strengthen their GSA’s in Texas schools.
Become a Visionary! Early this year, a small group of Austinites came together with an ambitious plan. They wanted to make a significant and lasting investment to LGBTQ youth in Central Texas. They created a group called the 20/20 Visionaries in order to provide sustainable monthly income for Out Youth and its vital programming. A Visionary can also be a Team Leader: signs up as a Visionary with a monthly contribution; commits to recruiting at least 10 other Visionaries; receives a t-shirt; wins prizes; and has fun attending social functions throughout the campaign. Just click the 20/20 logo at http://www.outyouth.org and become a part of this amazing legacy.
Among the other numerous needs for volunteers are:
- Staffing the drop-in center
- Helping in the office
- Maintaining the house and yard
- Assisting with special events
909 E. 49 1/2 Street
Austin, TX 78751