When school lets out for the year—most students are eager to for summer to begin, but it can be a tough transition for young people in the LGBTQ community.
“What if I get misgendered all the time? What if people don’t respect me? What if bad things happen or it’s not fun because of everything?" said Rin Parrack, 14, of Williamsville.
Those were the thoughts their head before attending their first music camp. During the school year, they have support in GSA’s or gender-sexuality alliances.
“I went for the last meeting and it was super fun, there were a lot of people there, it was just great," said Parrack.
When those youth go home for the summer, they may have less contact with others that they relate to, so GLYS has summer programming to help out.
They have a drop-in center that's been around since the 80s, a place where youth ages 12-21 can just hang out.
"We always like to have an element of fun, so we do different things like movie nights, karaoke, crafts. It’s really important for them to have a safe space. We have a time where every youth has an individual opportunity to talk about anything they want to talk about," said Galina Swords, Drop-In Center Advisor.
And that’s just one option.
"We are being asked, when are you going to be doing more in person so this summer is a time to go back to that," said Dr. Robert DiGangi-Roush, Executive Director at GLYS.
They also host Summer Primetime, a program where they focus a little bit more on leadership skills for the youth as well as employment readiness. There’s also a big picnic planned for later this summer, and opportunities to start slow and just have someone to talk to.
For Parrack, these programs make all the difference.
"It’s just a bubble of a warm fuzzy feeling, they’re supportive and they’ll take care of you, there are people who can sympathize with you and can give you advice about what to do if you’re having certain feelings," said Parrack.
GLYS has a full calendar of events (click here) you can find online and on their social media pages. And there you’ll find contact information for all of their program leaders so you can get involved.
And everything--other than special events--is free.