The OutCenter’s Teen Pride program is rebooting this year with a new focus in response to  COVID-19 and community feedback. 

The OutCenter’s Teen Pride program is rebooting this year with a new focus in response to  COVID-19 and community feedback. 

The OutCenter plays a pivotal role in helping students in the tri-county area to feel connected to  a community that accepts them for who they are and helps them to be their best selves today and  into their future. Rather than bringing students to the OutCenter, the Teen Pride program will  bring the OutCenter to them. When Teen Pride was established in 2014, it was the only LGBTQ+  student club for Middle and High School students in the area. Since then, the OutCenter has  assisted 16 different schools in developing clubs of their own.  

Studies have shown that GSAs have positive impacts on a school’s culture and quality of life for  LGBTQ+ students. Other research finds that: 

• All students in schools with GSAs feel safer in their schools.  

• LGBTQ+ students involved in GSAs are more likely to attend college. 

• LGBTQ+ students involved in GSAs are less likely to suffer from substance abuse and loneliness.  

A number of students and staff have reached out to the OutCenter seeking support in setting up,  sustaining and transitioning their clubs from year to year. In response, program coordinator Alex  Cross (they/them) has developed a series of summits to assist student leaders in starting their own  Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA) organizations. 

Through extensive research, Alex has strategized meaningful solutions to common problems  students face when organizing GSAs. Some of these roadblocks include uncertainty in starting  a GSA, developing a yearly calendar of events, recruiting and retaining members, and fear of  administrative blowback. 

Led by Alex, these summits will cover these topics and will take place at three key check-in points  throughout the year: 

• September/October summits will provide students with the tools they need to confidently and  effectively start either their virtual or in person GSAs. 

• January summits will offer a mid-year check-in and guidance on transitioning leadership for the  coming year. 

• May/June summits will celebrate their successes during the school year and review their work  and impacts, using insights and findings to plan for next year. 

For more information, please contact The OutCenter at teenpride@outcenter.org. 

The OutCenter of Southwest Michigan’s mission is to provide support and advocacy for LGBTQ+  people and their families in Berrien, Cass and Van Buren Counties of Southwest Michigan. 

One thought on “Teen Pride Program Helps Build LGBTQ+ Leaders

  1. I am a 6th grade student at WMS. Are you having events such as a Halloween party and prom this year? And can I bring anyone to these events?

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