COLORADO SPRINGS — Inside Out Youth Services has temporarily closed their community center and transitioned to providing services online. It comes after the Club Q shooting, and the organization and their staff receiving threats from online hate groups.
While they’re still mourning and grieving what happened during the tragedy, they’re also re-evaluating their safety precautions and working with experts to improve security features.
“It’s been a hard few months, not gonna lie,” said Liss Smith, the communications and advocacy director for Inside Out Youth Services.
Inside Out Youth Services is a local nonprofit that has been providing resources to teens and young adults in the LGBTQ+ community for more than 30 years.
Smith works closely with many of the young adults who seek services at the organization, and she is also part of the LGBTQ+ community.
“We did get national attention, and while that came with incredible national support, that has really helped us, it also came with a lot of targeted threats to our organization, and our staff,” said Smith. “We were hearing from our young folks, from the families that we serve, and from our staff, was that there was fear or nervousness about gathering in person.”
It’s a fear that still impacts many in the community, including Viktor Gard.
“I still haven't felt safe enough to try to find queer spaces,” said Gard, who is a transgender 18-year-old. He moved to Colorado Springs in October. “Then a few weeks later, unfortunately, Club Q happened, and it really just made me realize that there is no escaping the hatred.”
What the shooting has also made many realize, is the resiliency in the LGBTQ+ community.
“I also feel like I can't let that stop me from being as authentic as I can be,” said Gard.
For now, Inside Out Youth Services’ virtual center remains open for 13 to 24 year olds. They're still offering therapy, and holding weekly off-site meet-ups. They've also been working with experts to make sure the center is a safe space when it re-opens.
“We’re really trying to make sure that when we come back in person, we are operating safely, securely, and assuaging and fears that folks may have,” said Smith.
Smith said Inside Out Youth Services is planning to re-open in phases beginning this month.
For more information about the organization, click here.
Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.