Oct 14, 2019

Summer and fall 2019 - look what you made possible

summer fun
summer fun

True Colors is entering the fall with enthusiasm and excitement.

We have been working with one school district, for example, who has made the creation of a Gender/Sexuality Alliance (GSA) a priority at every one of their schools from kindergarten to high school.

This is really important because the average age the children are coming out around their sexuality is 11 to 13 (and significantly younger for transgender students!). In addition, the only school-based intervention which reduces suicidality in LGBTQ+ youth is the existence of a GSA – they don’t even have to go to – they just have to know it is there.

That is why True Colors works across the state all school year to support the growth of both new and existing support programs.

The summer was a busy one, too! True Colors has been offering a free, six week summer program for about 8 years. Based on youth feedback, we decided this year to make the program accessible to more youth by creating a drop-in center approach.

The 20 hour a week program we have run in the past seemed to demand too much time and commitment for youth and we rarely had more than 4-5 participants.   A great program but not enough return on investment so to speak. 

This year we created a three day a week drop in center, with a variety of activities and workshops. About 20 youth participate  each week and the feedback has been outstanding.

We have done crafts, watched movies, hosted discussions on topics of interest, and workshops on such things as creating a budget, updating your resume, job interviews and a panel about the extent to which people can be out at work.  It is amazing to watch and listen as these young people find a safe space in which to be themselves. They had fun, learned some stuff and found a place to belong.

  • Cal, Tre and Chae live in a group home setting  - it isn’t terrible, but it’s really not a home. Over the course of the summer, we have watched these three young ones blossom. They found a family here. 
  • Alex began as a kid who was pretty comfortable in his own skin but wanted some additional leadership skills. He developed to the point where we are going to hire him as one of our youth staff in the fall.  
  • Anissa and Kai were student interns – they came in shy and tentative and by week two were running things under the supervision of two more experienced youth staff. That youth led, youth development component of our work is so very important.  

We know that we couldn’t do what we do without the support and generosity of people like you. We are very, very grateful. Happy Fall! 

Youth leaders in action
Youth leaders in action

Links:

Jul 15, 2019

2nd Q 2019

Our values
Our values

Often in this space, we talk about the individual services (like mentoring and youth development) that your donations help make possible.  This month we'd like to talk about a different kind of service, one that is intimately tied to our core mission:  Capacity Building.  True Colors doesn't just provide direct services to LGBTQ+ youth and families; we help make sure that other programs that serve youth can also serve LGBTQ+ youth and families with competency and care. 

LGBTQ+ youth and families cross all spectrums of life - race, ethnicity, ability, citizenship, language, etc.  Our kids go to school; they play sports and participate in afterschool activities; they see a doctor for illness or wellness checks; they might see a clinician or school social worker -- and on and on interacting with the 'systems' that lives are made of.

No where in any of their mission statements do any of these organizations say, 'We only serve straight and cisgender people. Furthermore, we don't have a clue what to do when one of our constitutents is LGBTQ+." 

That's where we come in.  It is our job to help organizations recognize, affirm and serve their LGBTQ+ constituents competently.  Over the last 25 years, True Colors provided cultural competency training to more than 30,000 participants across Connecticut and nationally.  

From a school district training: 

     We were asked to provide culturally competency training to every teacher in the district, from kindergarden to twelfth grade.  Upon learning youth were now coming out on average between 11 and 13 years of age (so middle school), a group of middle school teachers decided to make a difference in their school. They helped their students create a Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA).  They focused on the GSA because they knew from our training that the existance of a GSA was the only school-based intervention that reduced suicide among LGBTQ+ student.  Two members of the group (12 year old straight, cisgender girls) decided they wanted to host a LGBTQ+ pride celebration to educate their community.  Their first pride attracted more than 400 participants - their second (this year) over 1,000.

From a training for social workers:

      She was a CT State Department of Children and Families (DCF) social worker in the Adolescent Unit. it had never really crossed her mind that some of her youth might be LGBTQ+ -- it just wasn't on her radar. Then she attended one of the first trainings we did for DCF social workers back in the late 1990's. And she was transformed from a bystander to an ally. As a social worker, she made it possible for dozens of LGBTQ+ youth in foster care and group homoes to attend our annual conference ever year and to participate in our mentoring program; Now as the Director of Quality Management, she works with True Colors to create and update policies impacting every child and family in the system.  DCF is ahead of almost every other state in its' LGBTQ+ policies and practices.   

 

Many of the training programs we offer are pro bono. We believe that people who can pay for our expertise should. And we believe that a school or organization's inability to pay shouldn't result in poor service to our kids.  Your donations help make that work possible. And we are very, very grateful.

Thank you. Together we are helping to create a world where youth of all orientations and genders are valued and affirmed. 

workshop
workshop

Links:

Apr 9, 2019

It really was magical.

the hour before the event began
the hour before the event began

The first quarter of each year is really dedicated to final preparations for our annual conference – an event that is made possible in part because of the generosity of our donors and supporters. Your generosity helps us not only keep costs down, but helps us provide more than $13,000 in scholarships to youth who would otherwise not be able to attend.

True Colors XXVI: This is ME! was held on Friday, March 22 and Saturday, March 23, 2019 at UCONN in Storrs. Three thousand, nine hundred and seventy-nine people participated over the two day event. They represented 122 high schools,11 middle schools, 14 colleges, and 10 different states. Here’s what some teachers had to say about their students’ experience:

“It was wonderful seeing all the LGBTQ+ youth being in a safe place just being themselves! I attended the very first True Colors conference so many years ago as a Social Work student and was a great experience bringing my 17 year old son and experiencing the conference together. What a great day!”

“Some colleagues and I took members of our GSA, and the first day one of them turned to us and said ‘I've never been around so many gay people before,’ clearly feeling for the first time what it was like to be the majority. The same student attended the bisexual workshop by Robyn and came out of it saying she never knew other people thought like her. Seeing the kids’ reactions was the most memorable experience for me.”

“One of my students was so inspired by her time at the conference that she stepped up to speak during the closing Youth SpeakOut and that is something we never would have expected from her.”

It is hard to describe the feeling of being in a room with that many excited, enthusiastic and joyful youth and adults. It is electrifying, even transformative. We hear so much about LGBTQ+ youth risk factors, something I sometimes call ‘the parade of horribles:   Suicidality, substance abuse, homelessness, discrimination. The conference is not about that – it is about celebrating LGBTQ+ identities, creativity, joy, and the gifts that we uniquely bring to the world. It is about youth and adults of all orientations and genders coming together to create a world in which everyone belongs.

in the vendor space
in the vendor space
the annual conference rock
the annual conference rock

Links:

 
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