Past members of Inside/Out Youth Services march in a pride parade.
Through a partnership with the Pikes Peak Library District, Inside/Out Youth Services
, our local LGBTIQA+ youth center, announced an expansion of its after school program. They will establish a group in Library 21c in order to serve students in District 20, who may not always be able to reach the center’s downtown location.
Inside/Out’s after school youth program helps create a sense of community for LGBTIQA+ students, reducing the risk of suicide and self-harm. According to Mary Malia, executive director of Inside/Out, the El Paso County Public Health Department has said that LGBTQIA+ youth make up an estimated 60-70 percent of completed youth suicides.
Malia has been working with the department on reducing that number.
According to Malia, the program’s goal is to “reach more youth, give them the chance to have that experience, to say ‘being LGBTQIA+ is okay, and I’m okay.’”
This expansion is a pilot program, hopefully the first of many across school districts in El Paso County. Provided Inside/Out can find the volunteers and the funding, they hope to make a decision about further expansion by this summer.
Inside/Out will hold an informal open house with more information about the program on Jan. 24, 4-5 p.m. at Library 21C in the ENT Conference Center. The program itself will launch on Jan. 27. This group, like Inside/Out’s downtown after school program, will be open to all LGBTIQA+ youth (whether they live in District 20 or not) between the ages of 13-22, or allies of the same age.