On Saturday, June 23, youth at OYA’s largest facility, MacLaren Youth Correctional Facility, celebrated national LGBTQ Pride Month at their own 2018 Pride event. The event drew a broad range of organizations devoted to celebrating and supporting LGBTQQI (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex) youth, their families, and allies. Organizations that attended included:
- Basic Rights Oregon (BRO) — and their new initiative, Fierce Family Members of Transgender Youth
- Beyond These Walls
- Latino Network
- PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays)
- Pride Foundation
- Pride NW
- SMYRC (Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center)
- Utopia PDX
Youth got an opportunity to talk to representatives from each organization and learn about their services. Several of the providers underscored how important it was for the youth to know that a large community of LGBTQQI people are available to support them while in the facility and when they return to the community.
LGBTQQI youth are more likely to experience violence, abuse, and victimization, and they face disproportionate rates of mental and physical health issues when compared to other youth. They’re also more likely to practice self-harm, attempt and complete suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, or be HIV-positive. Knowing there’s a positive community to plug into can help LGBTQQI youth remain safe and get the support they need to be successful and crime-free.