Pridelines Gets $17K For Youth Cyber Center
Pridelines Youth Services of Miami got quite a boon when they recently received a $17,500 grant from The Miami Foundation's GLBT Community Projects Fund. The grant will be used for Pridelines' David Bohnett CyberCenter and Drop-In Center operations, which provide a safe place for LGBTQ youth.
"With the grant we are supporting a safe space for LGBTQA, including questioning and allied youth to learn, grow and work together to support each other," The Miami Foundation President and CEO Javier Alberto Soto told EDGE. "The ultimate goal is to provide the support that these youth need to keep them in school."
Pridelines Youth Services began in 1982 as a group of concerned citizens with a goal to provide a safe space for young LGBTQ people to meet, interact and support each other during a time when being gay was socially unaccaptable. They were one of the first community-based HIV testing sites in Miami-Dade county and for more than 28 years they have provided safe space, social support, skill building, leadership development and referrals to mental health, health care and support services for LGBTQ youth and their straight allies.
"Thanks to the progress that we've made toward LGBTQ equality people are discovering their sexuality and being more vocal about it at earlier points in their lives," said Pridelines Youth Services Executive Director Victor E. Diaz-Herman. "As a result, Pridelines programs are more essential than ever today because it is important to provide support and education during the more formative years of a person's life."
According to the 1989 "Report on the Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide" issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, a majority of suicide attempts by LGBT citizens occur during their youth. Gay youth are reportedly two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other youth.
In a 1987 study conducted by Georgetown University, half of all lesbian and gay youth interviewed reported that their parents rejected them due to their sexual orientation. In a 1993 study, 33 percent of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth reported that they were not comfortable being open at school and 49 percent reported hiding their sexual orientation from their teachers. Sixty-three percent said that they felt overwhelmed to the point that they couldn’t get things done.
And eighty percent reported severe isolation problems including having no one to talk to, feeling distanced from family and peers because of their sexual identity, and lack of access to information about sexual orientation and homosexuality. According to the Georgetown University study, those who knew about their sexual orientation for longer periods had lost more friends and reported more mental problems.
"Unfortunately, we are still living in a time when families, friends, communities and religious institutions have not fully embraced sexual diversity in an effort to keep our young LGBTQ people safe," said Diaz-Herman. "Pridelines remains the only organization that is dedicated to providing services directly to LGBTQ youth only throughout South Florida. We empower and embrace them for who they are while also being candid about LGBTQ culture and health. We are also the safety net when many of them face the hard reality that society doesn’t always accept them for who they are."
Pridelines Youth Services provides weekly programs, youth enrichment activities, specials events and referral services for at-risk LGBTQ youth. Their weekly programs consist of peer-led, psycho-social discussion groups, financial literacy, art and safer sex educational programs. Youth Enrichment Activities and Special events include their annual CampOUT leadership camp, trip to Gay Days at Disney, holiday dinners and parties and their annual LGBTQ youth prom, which is going on its 18th year, among many others.
Most importantly, they operate South Florida’s only LGBTQ youth drop-in center, open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. where youth receive warm meals, can use the David Bohnett CycberCenter and can receive services or be referred to partnering agencies when they’re at-risk.
"Pridelines Youth Services belongs to the community and therefore their support is essential to our success," Diaz-Herman told EDGE. "All of our funding comes from individual donors, foundations that are invested in the success of Miami-Dade and/or Broward Counties, and/or corporations that receive recommendations to fund us from their local Employee Resource Groups. Additionally, Pridelines relies on the support of community based volunteers to assist our small team with administrative and programmatic projects. Community support is extremely important to us and to the LGBTQ youth we serve."
Diaz-Herman says that The Miami Foundation is, and has always been, a champion for Pridelines Youth Services. "We are honored that they have bestowed such a generous grant to support our CyberCenter and Drop-In Center services and operations," said Diaz-Herman. "The LGBT Community Projects fund allows us to continue providing safe spaces and nurturing environment for Miami-Dade’s LGBTQ youth where we can educate and empower them to be strong individuals."
Hundreds of people have been able to create personal, powerful and permanent legacies, thanks to The Miami Foundation. They have fostered the arts, awarded scholarships, championed diversity, taught kids to read, provided food and shelter for the hungry and the homeless, and much more.
In their 45-year history, more than $150,000,000 in grants and scholarships has been awarded. Today, they steward more than $160,000,000 in charitable assets. Through community programs, they invest in effective nonprofit organizations that share their vision of a greater Miami.
"The Miami Foundation provides civic leadership, bringing stakeholders together to tackle issues of concern in our community," Soto told EDGE. "Working together with our donors and community partners, we leverage collective knowledge, creativity and resources for a greater impact than any one of us could make alone. By connecting philanthropy with community needs and opportunities we make Miami a greater place to live, work, and play."
The Miami Foundation isn’t alone in supporting Pridelines Youth Services and their noble mission of equality and support for LGBTQ youth.
Diaz-Herman told EDGE, "This year was our 30th anniversary and we received great support from politicians and celebrities such as State Representative David Richardson, Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, City of Miami Beach Mayor Matti Bower and Commissioner Michael Gonogora, and from Sharon Gless, our Honorary Board Member and LGBTQ Youth Advocate. We thank each of them for their support!"