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Founded in 2009, Youth OUTright is the only youth advocacy and leadership non-profit organization in Western North Carolina dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning/queer, intersex, asexual and allied (LGBTQIA+) youth.
Here’s a few things that make Youth OUTright shine!
A Queer Vision
Youth OUTright (YO) is guided by a vision of a world where youth of all gender and sexual identities are empowered to reach their full potential. Through support and resource sharing in a safer, inclusive, and affirming environment, LGBTQIA+ youth ages 11-20 grow into confident, resilient, and compassionate community members.
In 2021, YO partnered with 44 Gay Straight Alliances and engaged over 700 youth in Western North Carolina. Activated by COVID, an emergency fund was established for LGBTQIA+ young people. The fund moves cash to LGBTQIA+ youth in danger of losing basic necessities or suffering major economic challenges, including those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. In 2021, YO distributed $14,000 in emergency mutual aid funds.
Hosting Spaces for Connection and Wellbeing
Throughout the COVID pandemic, spaces for youth to gather have been few and far between. Yet, YO provides weekly safe and affirming spaces for youth to meet and connect online with LGBTQIA+ peers from across Western North Carolina. Galaxy Meetups are semi-weekly drop-in spaces for young folks to be in community with one another. Activities include art making, creative writing, gaming, and even cooking together. These spaces are facilitated by Youth Fellows with support from staff. In collaboration with Southern Soul Wellness, YO has hosted healing circles to address the trauma LGBTQIA+ youth have experienced through the pandemic. Additionally in an effort to support participants’ wellbeing, YO uses social media to share ideas, prompts, and practices for mindfulness and emotional regulation.
Cultivating Youth Leadership
In the Summer of 2021, YO offered direct action training, exploring power mapping and a range of strategies to effect change. In response to anti-trans legislation, youth organized their own protest in downtown Asheville which mobilized over 200 participants. Additionally, YO is committed to creating a leadership pipeline for youth to discover their political agency and to build leadership skills and capacity. YO employs Youth Fellows, who are trained and paid, to support YO’s programming. YO youth also serve as Board members, with real decision making power about the future of the organization.
To learn more about Youth OUTright’s powerful work, check out this video.