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February 1, 2018
           

Tom was kind enough to answer some questions about his experience with IYG.


When and how did you first get involved with IYG?

I first became involved with IYG about a year and a half ago when I met with Mary Byrne and Buffy Adams to discuss possible volunteer opportunities during my upcoming retirement. Living in Indianapolis since the mid-1970s, I had been aware of IYG and the great work it had been doing, but as I neared retirement, I wanted to devote more time and resources to the LGBTQ community and support the welcoming environment that had first been established at the 46th Street location and would be continuing at the new Activity Center on Meridian.


What does your day-to-day involvement as a volunteer look like?

I have been volunteering on Fridays for several months (except when there are Pacer games 😊), but since the first of the year I've also volunteered on most Wednesdays. I usually arrive around 3 PM and stay until 7 or 8, but hours can be very flexible. I spend most of my time in the kitchen setting up premeal snacks, assisting with serving the main meal, and doing various clean-up jobs. Its central location makes the kitchen a great place to chat with the youth and other volunteers as they arrive. I contribute one meal per month from a local restaurant and, as part of that, heat up mac and cheese as a side dish (which is the extent of my cooking abilities). When needed, I've been a room monitor on occasion, and in the near future, I hope to attend more of the open programming sessions.


What inspires you to work so hard for LGBTQ+ youth?

I'm inspired most of all by the youth, who are always respectful and appreciative of volunteer efforts. I've been incredibly impressed by how welcoming they are to new youth and their families and how they clearly thrive on the friendships they have created with one other. I'm inspired by the staff, who are true professionals and always available to address personal problems a youth might have and provide needed services and referrals. I'm inspired by the collegial relationships that develop among the volunteers and how we all seem to fit together for a common purpose. Finally, I'm inspired by the opportunity to support an organization that has had such an enduring and positive influence on LGBTQ youth in our community.


What do you look forward to this year after so much has changed at IYG?

With the spacious new Activity Center, new staff, and great leadership, I look forward to the future expansion of services to address the needs of homeless youth, to the development of the outside green space for summer activities, to greater interactions with the now-all-in-one-place staff, and to opportunities for my own personal development. I'd like to continue my life-long learning into health-related issues affecting LGBTQ youth, particularly the transgender community, and also explore the possibility of updating my mentoring skills in math and science.

 

Thank you Tom for your time and dedication to creating a safe space for the LGBTQ youth of Indianapolis to be themselves!

 

June 21, 2017
           

Q: What was happening in your life when you started coming to IYG: were you doing okay at school? How were things at home?
A: I heard about IYG my freshmen year of high school but didn't start coming consistently till almost two years later. I have always been a fairly good student, but rarely invested myself in school or in my interactions with my peers. My home life has always been less than ideal and incredibly unstable.
Q: How did you hear about IYG?
A: I went to Zionsville High School, which at the time was not at all queer friendly but I had heard one of my gay friends mention that there was an LGBT+ youth group in Indianapolis.
Q: What went through your mind when you first heard about IYG?
A: I grew up in a conservative Christian family so when I heard the phrase "LGBT+ youth group" I was incredibly confused. To me youth group was something that I had always associated with church which to me was the opposite of a queer space. I was incredibly excited at the idea that there were enough queer people in Indianapolis to make a youth group (needless to say I had been a little sheltered from and mislead about the LGBT+ community growing up).
Q: Was it hard to come to IYG the first time? Did you come with friends or by yourself?
A: I am and always have been an incredibly introverted and quiet person so my first night at IYG was anxiety provoking and mildly terrifying to say the least. The only reason I actually made it in the door was because I had promised my friend that I would come and at least see what it was like.
Q: How long have you been coming to IYG? Why do you keep coming?
A: I have been coming to IYG for almost five years. At first I kept coming because I needed a way out of the house and I wanted to see my friend, but the longer I've been at IYG the more it has become a family and community for me and provided a sort of consistency and stability in my life that I have never really had.
Q: In general, what is your opinion of IYG and what would you like to become involved with at the center?
A: I love IYG for what it is and what it has done for me and the people in my life. I am beyond excited for the new space to open and for the center to have the ability to impact so many more youth in Indianapolis. As far as things at the center I would like to become more involved in, I have at some point been a part of almost every program that is offered at the center; and because I only have a year or so left before my age out I feel like I need to start giving back to the community at the house as well as shift my energy towards organizations with similar goals as IYG where I can be a part of educating and advocating for our community.

February 24, 2017
           

It is by how we treat the most vulnerable of our citizens that inform all of us about our own liberties and freedoms in the United States today. And our LGBTQ+ youth have been attacked continuously at many intersections of their identities by this administration: Muslim, Black, Latinx, immigrant, female, Jewish, poor, and differently abled.

Trump's rescinding the guidance to treat transgender youth fairly is just his latest attack in a long line of attacks that have impacted the LGBTQ+ youth we serve at IYG. To be clear, Title IX is still law and Title IX is still in place to protect students from gender discrimination in school.

Yet, the President, Department of Education/Justice have chosen not to enforce these protections.  Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked guidance clarifying that Title IX's protections apply to trans students. Sessions - a longtime opponent of LGBT rights - has convinced President Trump to change his stance on allowing trans people to access restrooms that are consistent with the gender they live every day.  Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, did nothing to protect one of the most vulnerable groups of students within the education system.

We condemn the executive orders and actions this administration has taken already that targets this country's most vulnerable communities, and we condemn the rescinding of the Title IX guidance to schools that provides protection for transgender and gender nonconforming youth.

Transgender and gender nonconforming youth are one of the most vulnerable populations in our country. These youth deserve fair and equitable treatment in their schools.

Indiana LGBTQ youth, in grades K-12, do not feel safe in their schools. The 2015 GLSEN National School Climate Survey shows 77% of LGBTQ students in Indiana reported being verbally harassed. Indiana Youth Group condemns the aggressive, negative actions and words of the President that will only embolden bullies, be they legislators, principals, or parents, to perpetuate violent actions and words against others based on their race, religion, sexual/gender identity, or any other exploited and marginalized status.

Rescinding these guidelines puts trans and gender nonconforming youth at an even greater risk in their schools and communities because of the removal of protections and because of the license this provides for the perpetuation of anti-trans violence.

When youth are put at risk by the perpetuation of systemic discrimination in all its forms, they are limited in their ability to access an education, have greater health disparity, face a higher risk of incarceration, and are more likely to experience violence.

In this storm of hostility and hate, Indiana Youth Group will continue to combat the isolation, depression and uncertainty of the LGBTQ youth we serve through providing a drop-in center for youth to access support and services, serving families of LGBTQ youth, and providing education and training for educators. IYG calls on the community to co-create with us a world in which all parts of us are seen, valued, and one in which we all belong.

 You can do your part to protect our LGBTQ youth by giving to IYG today indianayouthgroup.kindful.com/

January 16, 2017
           

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  Indiana Youth Group Announces Acquisition of New Activity Center and Public Phase of $2.6 Million
"The Power of Safe" Capital Campaign

$1.75 Million Committed To Campaign During Silent Phase!

Jan 17, 2017 - Indiana Youth Group (IYG) emerges from the silent phase of its capital campaign with seventy percent of its $2.6 million dollar goal raised in just six months.

Bill Osterle, Angie's List co-founder, made the announcement today. "I am proud to serve as the Honorary Co-Chair of the Capital Campaign for Indiana Youth Group alongside Chris Paulsen. In a world where our LGBTQ neighbors do not have non-discrimination laws to protect them, it is more vital than ever that our youth have a safe place to thrive. Our LGBTQ youth deserve to grow in a community that supports who they are and helps them reach their potential as healthy adults."

Indiana Youth Group provides safe places, wellness programming, education and advocacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) and the community, including schools, employers, parents and health care providers. Nearly seventy donors including individuals, churches, corporations and other non-profit organizations have supported IYG's capital campaign during the silent phase, a period of intense internal planning and leadership gift commitments to ensure success for IYG's vision.

"We have been amazed by the support during the silent phase of the campaign and know the public phase will deliver similarly impressive results simply because of the current climate, people want to do something meaningful," said Capital Campaign Committee Co-Chair Michael Overdorf. Co-chair, Krisztina Inskeep, a parent and LGBTQ advocate agreed, "We are grateful for the efforts of our Capital Campaign Committee and thank all the donors for their investment in this vision. Now we call upon all organizations and individuals to help COMPLETE this project, to get motivated, and give. These are uncertain times in the LGBTQ community, so, frankly speaking, your contribution is more important than ever!"

Founded in 1987, by two members of the LGBQT community who witnessed an alarming trend upward in LGBTQ youth calling a suicide helpline, IYG has been located in a house near 46th and Binford since 1992. Demand for IYG's services have outgrown its current activity center. In 2015, IYG served nearly 700 youth and there were nearly 6,000 youth visits to the activity center.

Participation in IYG programs has grown exponentially in the past few years, and that trend is expected to continue. With just a nominal 25% increase (about half the rate of IYG's growth in each of the most recent years), IYG will serve an average of 245 youth per week - almost double current attendance - by 2018.

Administrative Staff moved out of IYG's current activity center in early 2016 to provide greater space for IYG's 30+ monthly programs, but the facility continues to limit the number of youth that can be served. Each year, more youth seek out IYG. With growth, other issues like limited parking, no direct access to public transportation and limited outdoor space has made the current facility nearly impossible to meet the critical demand for services. IYG's leadership wanted to ensure that the organization was prepared to meet the need for services before a situation occurred where youth would have to be turned away because of limited capacity. A larger, more functional facility will enable IYG to have a greater impact on more lives.

Chris Paulsen of Freedom Indiana and Honorary Co-Chair to IYG's Capital Campaign explained why there is such an urgent need for a larger facility to serve more youth, "LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers and the rate doubles to 8.4 times if the youth comes from a rejecting family." Paulsen went on to highlight some more staggering numbers, "Indiana has the nation's highest rate of students who have contemplated suicide and the second highest rate of high school students attempting suicide. One in 9 Indiana youth have attempted suicide. We need to look at youth suicide as an epidemic." Paulsen laid out the timeline and again stressed the urgency, "Ideally, we would like to raise the remaining $850,000 by April. Every single day IYG doesn't have space to serve youth in need, is a day too long."

Mary Byrne, Executive Director of IYG provided details about IYG's new home, "With monies raised during the silent phase, IYG paid cash for an incredible facility on near 38th and Meridian, that will both accommodate all of IYG's current program space needs and also will allow for sustainable future growth! Youth and staff will have the space they need to plan and participate in social and program activities more comfortably and efficiently. One of our priorities is to be even more accessible to the youth who need us the most. The new center is prominently located at a major intersection and on several bus lines, and can be easily accessed by foot, car and public transportation."

Once construction/renovation is complete, the new building will include the following features:

INDOOR SPACE
• Computer lab/education room
• Art space
• General activity rooms and Social Group rooms
• Large multipurpose room
• Smaller Case Management rooms
• Full ADA compliance
• Storage for food, clothing, technology, group supplies, event planning, and case records
• Large kitchen with space for preparing meals and cooking classes
• Individual and shared office spaces
• Professional training/Conference room
• 6 Gender neutral bathrooms


OUTDOOR SPACE
• Picnic area
• Performance Stage
• Grill
• Fire Pit
• Multi-purpose sports and activity area
• Fenced parking area for 40 cars

Reaching the campaign goal will coincide with another historic milestone for IYG-the celebration of Indiana Youth Group's thirty-year anniversary in 2017. Indiana Youth Group is one of the largest LGBTQ youth centers of its kind across the country. It is unique in that it is a stand-alone organization serving LGBTQ youth and the community rather than being a division or arm of a larger umbrella organization.

Therefore, through collaboration and partnership with other youth-serving organizations, IYG is able to serve as a one-stop-shop for our youth who are empowered through wellness programs, social and leadership opportunities, family support services and educational programs that include homework sessions, tutoring, study groups, career and college prep. IYG works closely with medical and mental health organizations throughout the state, more than 80 GSA organizations inside Indiana schools and dozens of LGBTQ Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at Indianapolis corporations, who provide financial and volunteer contributions.

Click here if you would like to print out a pledge form.
 

For more information about volunteering or supporting IYG's vision through the Power of Safe capital campaign click the green donate button or email badams@indianayouthgroup.org.

 

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