Options Magazine - September 2018

Page 16

Youth Pride Eases Students Into the New School Year

by Executive Director Elana Rosenberg and Benji Chaplin The start of the school year can be stressful for any student, especially those worrying about fitting in because of their unique gender or sexual identity. It’s important that you know a bit about the wonderful resource that is Youth Pride Inc., so that the students in your life understand that they don’t have to struggle with their identity alone. Youth Pride, Inc. strives to meet the unique needs of youth and young adults impacted by sexual orientation and gender identity or expression, while working to end the homophobic and transphobic environments in which they live, work, study, and play. We achieve this through a variety of services and activities offered in our Providence drop-in center, and through working with the RI community outside our doors. Our services and programs are open to youth between the ages of 13 and 24, and include a night for young folks between the ages of 9 and 13. All YPI Center services and activities are free to youth.Together, they experience cultural, educational, social, and wellness activities, workshops, and events at YPI and around the state. At YPI, youth find strength and support in each other; build lasting relationships with staff and other adult volunteers and community members; receive one-on-one counseling with licensed clinicians; access our basic needs pantry for food, clothing, toiletries and school supplies; and build the leadership skills they need to


Options | September 2018

change the world beyond our doors. Across Rhode Island, we provide technical assistance and professional development sessions to service providers, educators, and students. YPI supports GSAs in schools, and works on policy and advocacy at an individual and systemic level. Learn more about YPI from our youth, staff, and volunteers by joining us for YPI’s Annual Rainbow Party on September 23, from 1:30-3:30pm at The Dunes Club. Look for our invite in this issue for more details! The following is written by YPI youth, Benji Chaplin: This time of year is always a stressful time for me because I know soon it’s going to be the first day of school. Starting freshman year in high school scared me to death. I went in wondering: Do I look straight enough? Is there anything I can do to not be called gay? I never really could find my place in school. I was always very shy, quiet, and very awkward. Any time another student approached me, they immediately asked me questions like: What are you? Which gender do you like? Why do you look like a girl? Are you trans? I felt like no one was going through the same thing I was, until I discovered this place called Youth Pride Inc.

Youth Pride does amazing work and has given me all sorts of great resources and opportunities. I remember when I first stepped foot in YPI at the end of August during my sophomore year, right away I was greeted by a staff member who explained to me what YPI was and what they do. After I went home that day I kept returning every time they were open. I learned things that I had been unaware of, and started learning about the LGBTQ+ community. I was able to finally find my identity. I met a lot of people who have felt and experienced what I felt in school. Inspired by the work YPI has done for me and other youth, I decided I wanted to be more involved. I participated in OUTSpoken, and about a year later I was able to join the board of directors. This summer, I was hired as a summer staff member. Looking back on how long I have been coming to YPI and how much they have helped me, I hope to move into a career path of becoming a theater major and pursue acting/film. YPI will always be a big part of my life. It’s something I will always remember and appreciate. Youth Pride Inc. provides support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQQ young people ages 9-23. Our Drop-in Center is at 473 Westminster Street, Providence, RI 02903. Visit www.youthprideri.org, email info@youthprideri. org, or call (401) 421-5626 for more info.

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