COLORADO SPRINGS — June is Pride month across our country. As we highlight the progress made, as well as the issues facing the LGBTQ community, one organization is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Inside Out Youth Services offers support to LGBTQ young people. Their mission is to educate, empower and advocate for so many adolescents who may feel rejected, unloved, and unwanted by others, because of their sexuality.
Since the spread of the coronavirus, all of their services have gone virtual. Inside Out offers everything from "Drop-in Sessions," where young people can come and play games, and participate in arts and crafts in a safe space where they can be themselves, to a youth advisory council, where members can come together to work on making changes in southern Colorado, by educating people on LGBTQ issues.
Many young people rely on the "Qmmunity Resilience Program" Inside Out offers. It's a group that helps young people develop coping skills on how to navigate life as an LGBTQ young person.
Joseph Shelton is a program assistant at the agency. Shelton says since the pandemic began it's been a little harder reaching kids who need support.
"Approximately 30% of our youth experience homeless in some form or another," Shelton explained. "So with that being the case these youths don't have internet, they don't have a computer, and so if they do try to get to us they have to do it from their phone. Then they often have a spotty signal, so they can't really do things with us. It's hard on some ends."
There are some benefits to working virtually. Shelton says they've been able to reach young people who don't have transportation but can now reach out online. They've also been able to reach teens who live too far out, or whose families aren't accepting of who they are.
Inside Out has been able to provide some of their clients with COVID-19 care packages. For more information on the services offered, click here.