Founded in January 1990, Out Youth began as a support group led by two graduate students from The University of Texas School of Social Work. Their research into gay and lesbian youth found that they were more likely to commit suicide than other adolescents. They found, however, that no resources existed for these youth in the Austin area.
After meeting in (and quickly outgrowing) living rooms and libraries, Out Youth became a program of what then was the University YWCA and obtained our first grant from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health. Early partnerships with LifeWorks, Waterloo Counseling Center and Metropolitan Community Church of Austin (MCC) were crucial to Out Youth’s growth and ongoing community support.
During time with the University YWCA, Out Youth services included a nationwide helpline that was answered seven nights a week by trained volunteers. The helpline was operated until the Trevor Project came along with its own 24-hour service in 1998. Located on Guadalupe Street, we found ourselves serving a great many homeless youth, and partnered with LifeWorks to provide outreach and HIV services to this under-served population.
In 1995, Out Youth became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to provide services to Central Texas “sexual minority youth” ages 12 to 22. After a few years being housed with the Metropolitan Community Church at Austin’s short-lived LGBT Community Center, Out Youth moved in December 1998 to a 1,900-square-foot, two-story house in North Central Austin and purchased the house in March 2000.
In 2005, a series of unfortunate events led to a brief closure of Out Youth. Overwhelming community support brought many stakeholders together to restructure the organization to ensure its future.
In 2007, a generous and far-sighted donor paid off our mortgage. The facilities include three administrative and counseling offices, a large Drop-In Center with a CyberCenter, a library,and a room for our support groups. A large deck and front and back yard offer room for outdoor programming and plans are under way to expand the library.