LGBTQ Youth

EmpowerMT supports, mobilizes, and engages LGBTQ+ youth and allies as leaders in tackling individual and institutional transphobia and homophobia in an effort to build safer schools and communities.  This is accomplished through our local LGBTQ+ drop-in group Youth Forward, the development of statewide Gender and Sexuality Alliances (formerly Gay-Straight Alliances) youth leaders and adult mentors, and by coordinating a coalition of statewide partners working towards LGBTQ+ inclusion through the Montana Safe Schools Coalition. EmpowerMT is a sought-out resource and model for supporting, empowering, and creating safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth in Montana.

 

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YOUTH FORWARD

Youth Forward is a safe and supportive drop-in space for youth 13-18 who identify as LGBTQ+. Youth Forward takes a  holistic approach to meeting the needs LGBTQ+ youth through weekly activities such as interactive discussions, peer-to-peer support, leadership development, guest speakers, and community engagement.

We explore topics such as Healthy Relationships, LGBTQ+ culture, Youth Empowerment, Healing through Self-Care, Know Your Rights, Exploring the Gender Spectrum, Family and Support, Poetry and Art Projects, Religion and Spirituality, Allyship Skills, Positive Identity Development, and so much more!

Youth Forward meetings every Wednesday from 5:00-7:00pm at Empower Montana located at 2300 Regent suite 101.  For more info contact our staff at 406-541-6891 or email info@empowermt.org.

 

BE YOU CREW

Be You Crew is a weekly educational support group and for LGBTQ+ identifying youth and allies between 4th and 7th grade. Be You Crew is a safe space for young LGBTQ+ people to explore and gain confidence in their identities and for non-identifying youth to learn about their LGBTQ+ counterparts and how to effectively be an ally.

Be You Crew meets weekly on Thursdays. This group meets at the EmpowerMT Office located at 2300 Regent Suite 101. For additional information feel free to give us a call at 406-541-6891 or email at info@empowermt.org

MONTANA Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA)

Research shows that GSAs provide a safe space for students to find support and safety within their school environment.  EmpowerMT has long been recognized for empowering LGBTQ+ youth across the state of Montana and in 2012 we were designated the Montana statewide coordinator for the GSA Network.  The Montana GSA Network provides support to these student clubs to improve their school climate for all students through:

  • Supporting GSAs: we provide support and guidance for all clubs – from emerging GSAs to well-established groups seeking to take on a significant project.
  • Leadership Development: tailored training to empower LGBTQ+ student leaders and allies.  We also support GSA advisers and other school staff and administration.
  • Resources and Tools: compilation of local, statewide, and national resources, tools, and media catalog for students, educators, and families.

For questions about starting a GSA, improving your GSA, requests for resources or more please contact us at info@empowermt.org.

 

MONTANA SAFE SCHOOLS COALITION

The Montana Safe School Coalition (MSSC) believes that no student, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, should ever feel too afraid to go to school.  That is why 15 years ago the MSSC was formed as, a partnership of youth and statewide agencies to respond to rising concerns from students, parents and educators about anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, harassment, and violence. MSSC provides tailored interactive workshops designed to help educators identify the many forms of anti-LGBTQ+ bullying, harassment, and violence taking place in their schools and what the impact is on students’ mental health, academic achievement, and the overall culture of the school.   A critical objective of the training is helping teachers, counselors, and administration identify the harm caused to all students as a result of anti-LGBTQ+ violence.  

To join the Montana Safe Schools Coalition or get more information on scheduling a training near you please email us at info@empowermt.org.

 

YOUTH RESOURCES

GSA and Other Resources Map

Above is a map of resources for LGBTQ+ youth in the state of Montana. If you know of a resource that does not exist on the map, please email spencer@empowermt.org with the resources information.

As an organization that strives to support LGBTQ+ youth, we have listed some valuable resources that are listed below. If you have further questions that are not answered by these resources, do not hesitate to contact us for any questions you may have.

Coming Out As You!

Coming Out As You is a new pocket-sized resource that helps youth navigate the coming out experience in a safe way that encourages critical thinking. You can download the worksheets online, at TheTrevorProject.org/YOU.

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Resources | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health | CDC

General information, data resources and other LGBT health-related links

Home

Explore the issues related to gender and learn the impact gender inclusiveness and diversity can have on children and teens. We provide an array of services designed to help families, schools, professionals, and organizations understand and address concepts of Gender identity and expression.

https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/resources/lgbtq/

PARENT RESOURCES

Some resources and tips for parents that will help you best support your LGBTQ+ child:

Talk and listen. Parents who talk with and listen to their teen in a way that invites an open discussion about sexual orientation can help their teen feel loved and supported. Parents should have honest conversations with their teens about sex, and about how to avoid risky behavior and unsafe or high-risk situations.

Provide support. Parents who take time to come to terms with how they feel about their teen’s sexual orientation will be more able to respond calmly and use respectful language. Parents should develop common goals with their teen, including being healthy and doing well in school.

Stay involved. Parents who make an effort to know their teen’s friends and know what their teen is doing can help their teen stay safe and feel cared about.

Be proactive. Parents can access many organizations and online information resources to learn more about how they can support their LGBTQ+ teen, other family members, and their teen’s friends.

Engage with your child. Your lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ+) child requires and deserves the same level of care, respect, information, and support as non-LGBTQ+ children. Ask questions, listen, empathize, share and just be there for your child.

Get the facts about sexual orientation and gender identity. Learn new language and the correct terminology to communicate effectively about sexual orientation and gender identity. Challenge yourself to learn and to go beyond stereotyped images of LGBTQ+ people.

Here’s a quick lesson on two frequently misunderstood terms:

  • Sexual orientation—Describes to whom a person feels attraction: people of the opposite gender, the same gender, or both genders.
  • Gender identity—A person’s inner sense of gender—male, female, some of each, neither. Transgender people have a gender identity that is different from the gender to which they were  assigned at birth.

Some people ask, “Isn’t transgender just like being gay?” No. Transgender describes a person’s internal sense of gender identity. Sexual orientation describes a person’s feelings of attraction toward other people. Transgender people have some things in common with gay, lesbian,bisexual and queer communities, but gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation.

Get to know the community. What resources are available? Find out if there is a Gender & Sexuality Alliance (GSA) at school, a community group for LGBTQ+ and questioning teens, a bookstore with a selection of books and magazines on LGBTQ+ issues, or a LGBTQ+ community center nearby.

Explore the Internet. There is a growing amount of excellent information on the Internet that connects people with support and materials on these important topics. Three excellent Web sites are Youth Resource, Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN). For a diverse selection of links to a variety of LGBTQ+ sites, including education, family, health and wellness, and multiple identities. 

Find out where your local Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) meets. Many parents say that their connections with other parents of GLBT kids made a world of difference in their progress toward understanding their young people. Finding another person you can trust to share your experience with is invaluable. Many people have gone through similar things and their support, lessons learned, and empathy can be very valuable.

Don’t make it ALL there is … just because your child has come out as LGBTQ+ does not mean the young person’s whole world revolves around sexual orientation or gender identity. It will be a big part of who the youth is, especially during the process of figuring it all out, including what being LGBTQ+ means to them. Still, being LGBTQ+ isn’t the sum of life for your child, and it is vital to encourage your child in other aspects of life, such as school, sports, hobbies, friends, and part-time jobs.

ASK your child before you “come out” to others on the child’s behalf. Friends and family members might have questions or want to know what’s up; but it is most important to be respectful of what your child wants. Don’t betray your child’s trust!

Praise your LGBTQ+ child for coming to you to discuss this issue. Encourage the youth to continue to keep you “in the know.” If your child turns to you to share personal information, you’re must be doing something right! You are approachable. You’re sending out consistent verbal and non-verbal cues that say, “Yes, I’ll listen. Please talk to me!” Give yourself some credit—your LGBTQ+ child chose to come out to you. Congratulations!

Find out what kind of support, services, and education are in place at your child’s school. Does the school and/or school district have a non-discrimination policy? Is a there a LGBTQ+/straight support group? Do you know any “out” people, or their friends and loved ones, to whom you can turn for information? (Before doing so, again refer to tip number 7, above. Ask your child if it’s okay for you to “come out” about the child.)

Educate yourself on local, state and national laws and polices regarding LGBTQ+ people. On the national level, LGBTQ+ people are still second-class citizens in regard to some national policies and their rights are not guaranteed by law. Consider educating yourself about this and finding out what you can do to work toward extending equal rights to LGBTQ+ people in the United States. A good place to start is the National LGBTQ Task Force.

 

LGBTQ Resource List

PoliticalEquality FederationHuman Rights Campaign (HRC)National LGBTQ Task ForceVictory FundBisexual BIENESTARBiNetUSABisexual.orgBisexual Resource C

PFLAG

Our 400+ chapter network provides confidential peer support, education and advocacy in communities in nearly all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Our 200,000+ members and supporters cross multiple generations of American families in major urban centers, small cities, and rural areas.

Family Acceptance Project ® |

Our team has been putting research into practice by developing an evidence-based family model of wellness, prevention and care to strengthen families and promote positive development and healthy futures for LGBT children and youth. We provide training and consultation on our family-based prevention and intervention approach across the United States and in other countries.

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Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health | CDC

Learn about the perspectives and public health needs of LGBT people and work to eliminate health disparities.

Family Acceptance Project ® |

Our team has been putting research into practice by developing an evidence-based family model of wellness, prevention and care to strengthen families and promote positive development and healthy futures for LGBT children and youth. We provide training and consultation on our family-based prevention and intervention approach across the United States and in other countries.

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TIPS FOR SCHOOLS

Here are some tips for making sure that your school is inclusive and capable of meeting the needs of LGBTQ+ youth:

 

Encourage respect for all students and prohibit bullying, harassment, and violence against all students.

Identify “safe spaces,” such as counselors’ offices, designated classrooms, or student organizations, where LGBTQ youth can receive support from administrators, teachers, or other school staff.

 

 

Encourage student-led and student-organized school clubs that promote a safe, welcoming, and accepting school environment (e.g., gay-straight alliances, which are school clubs open to youth of all sexual orientations).

 

 

Ensure that health curricula or educational materials include HIV, other STD, or pregnancy prevention information that is relevant to LGBTQ youth (such as ensuring that curricula or materials use inclusive language or terminology).

 

 

Encourage school district and school staff to develop and publicize trainings on how to create safe and supportive school environments for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, and encourage staff to attend these trainings.

 

 

Facilitate access to community-based providers who have experience providing health services, including HIV/STD testing and counseling, to LGBTQ youth.

 

Facilitate access to community-based providers who have experience in providing social and psychological services to LGBTQ youth.