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Meet the activists who are mapping out hot spots and safe zones for LGBTQ youth

LGBTQ Activists
Posted at 7:24 PM, Jun 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-21 07:52:16-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Human Rights Campaign says already this year, 29 trans and gender non-conforming people have died at the hands of violence in the U.S.

Last year that number was 44.

At Inside Out, there are two activists working to make El Paso County safer for LGBTQ youth. Darolyn Stewart (She, Her) and Goddess Tyescha (They, She) both say there are places in El Paso County, where they just won't go because they don't feel safe.

Stewart is a Safe at Schools Coalition Coordinator, and Goddess Tyescha is the Amplifier of Public Advocacy, at Inside Out, a non-profit that supports LGBTQ youth through programs and services.

"The reality is, because of my gender identity, and because of my sexual orientation and because I am a person of color, I have been threatened in the streets and I have been called crazy amounts of names that we can't put on TV," said Goddess Tyescha. "Just for walking down the street to go to Starbucks," They said.

"El Paso County has some work to do. There are places in El Paso County that I just won't go," Stewart explained.

Both are working with Inside Out, to help map out safe zones and hot spot areas in the county. Hot spot areas are locations around town, where LGBTQ youth and adults, feel unsafe due to incidents of harassment.

"I get to coordinate a coalition that meets every month. We work in the schools to makes sure those schools are providing safe spaces for young people, especially our LGBTQ young people, which is going to make safer spaces for all people," Stewart said.

That includes working with school districts, community centers, and other places where young people tend to gather.

They collect data through surveys, and then make policy recommendations, to bring about change.

"We've had school say they are going to install all-gender restrooms across the whole district. I just got an email today that a young person was able to get their chosen name put on their diploma," Stewart explained.

The data collected on schools will remain confidential, but soon the city's hot spots and safe zones will be revealed soon.

"Safe spaces have to come out of not only Inside Out, but every single young person should have the capacity to feel safe and included," Goddess Tyescha said.