Dear Fabulous Supporter of Stonewall Youth,
For 25 years, Stonewall Youth has provided the only safe, reliable, and intentional space for many LGBTQ+ youth in our community. We provide a safe, sober, and supportive space for LGBTQ+ youth to talk about their experience, make friends, make art and music, build job and personal skills, and to get the support, referrals, knowledge, confidence, and mentorship that assist them to successfully navigate the struggles they face.
This year of struggle and beauty has been a groundbreaking one for Stonewall Youth. Here are some highlights of what we did this year:
Fighting for our rights and safety: This year began with a hateful clamor of anti-trans protests, legislation and ballot initiatives that would have blocked trans youth and adults from using bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities appropriate to their gender identity. Youth and adult allies wrote letters to and met with legislators, testified in hearings, engaged in rallies and protests, and supported each other through these sometimes harrowing experiences. We collaborated with an array of statewide and local organizations to narrowly defeat all of the dangerous proposals.
Youth Leadership: We have a staff collective of two youth and two adults. Lili and Ruby, our two youth Co-Directors who were hired at the end of 2015, led Stonewall into a new era of youth leadership this year. They led regular programs, created and led many new projects, provided amazing support and inspiration to youth, and were basically extraordinary. We also recently hired four new members of our youth Speakers Bureau Collective, and started a new youth paid Fellowship program for high school age youth.
So Many Expansions: We expanded our drop-in hours to three days a week to accommodate an increase in youth participants. Almost 400 youth participated in our support groups, art and writing workshops, drop-ins, dances, and other programs! New programs included music programming (we inherited a large collection of musical instruments), 10-week workshops for spoken work and poetry, a series of youth open mics, expanded outreach to rural areas, and our new monthly all-ages Community Potlucks.
We just signed a “Lease to Own” agreement on a downtown building! Among many other fabulous things, the building will serve as the Stonewall Youth center as well as the all-ages Queer Center.
We did all that and much more on a shoestring budget of less than $100,000 that stretches us too thin. The need for our programs is great.
LGBTQ+ youth are significantly more likely than their peers to experience violence, bullying, and to attempt suicide. They are often unable to access basic services like culturally competent healthcare, teachers or safe bathrooms. The day-to-day injustices experienced by LGBTQ+ youth – particularly youth of color — can lead to depression, high drop out rates, and serious health issues. Did you know that over 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+? LGBTQ+ youth also face barriers to accessing social services, and in obtaining safety in housing, foster care or juvenile justice.
We depend on community members like YOU to support our critical work. Please send us a special year-end tax deductible gift of $20, $50 or $100 (or even more!)
Youth and their adult allies at Stonewall Youth recognize that the recent election of Donald Trump and the fact that he’s appointing many well-known bigots to positions of power means that even the small gains in civil rights and healthcare made by LGBTQ+ people in the past decade are in danger, particular for people of color, trans people and immigrants.
We are also gearing up for another wave of anti-trans hate and legislation in Washington State. Last year’s anti-trans bill lost by only one (1!) vote. A new hateful bill has been pre-filed that would limit transgender people’s access to public restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities by prohibiting them from using the restroom consistent with who they are if they are “preoperative, nonoperative, or otherwise have genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated.” (Yep, that’s an actual quote from the proposed legislation.)
Even if no drastic changes are made in state and federal law, LGBTQ+ youth are experiencing the real and present danger of increased violence, negative attention, insecurity about the ongoing availability of health care, and increased bigotry. They need Stonewall Youth.
DONATE NOW to help LGBTQ+ youth stand up for their rights and to get the support needed to survive these hazardous times.
Your gift of $15 will buy a monthly bus pass for a low-income youth (under 18).
$25 will provide Old School pizza for 25 youth at drop-ins (thanks to the discount that Old School graciously gives us!)
$50 will pay for school supplies for two low-income youth or two bus passes for youth over age 18
$80 will cover a worth of stipends to low-income youth Support Group facilitators
$100 will provide a stipend for a youth Fellow or two discounted therapy sessions for a youth or cover the expenses for one youth to attend our weekend Glitter Camp
$300 will provide art supplies for a 10-week program or pay for a training for our youth co-directors
$400 will cover the food and other expenses for a youth dance and open mic
$1,000 will cover our rent and utilities for a month!
In these troubled times, we draw strength from the actions of the resistors of hate and oppression, like the indigenous people and allies who held the ground at Standing Rock. Or by the actions of the cast of “Hamilton, An American Musical” when Vice President Elect Mike Pence recently attended the award-winning Broadway hit. When the cast assembled onstage for the curtain call, actor Brandon Victor Dixon said this to Pence on behalf of the multiracial, multicultural, queer and straight cast:
“We truly thank you for joining us. We, sir, are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our values, our children, or our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights. We truly hope that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us, ALL OF US.”
We applaud this instance of speaking truth to power. At Stonewall Youth, we resist hate and its terrible consequences by building a supportive community, speaking truth to power, and joining with our allies to create social change. The love & support we receive from our community makes our work possible!
Ruby Harrison-Clay & Bryn Houghton, Co-Directors