COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Inside/Out Youth Services provides services and a safe space to LGBT youth in Colorado Springs.
It has been in the Colorado Springs community for 26 years and is the only LGBT youth serving organization in the area.
Being a young adult can be a difficult time for people, but it can be even more difficult for those who are LGBT, a minority group with suicide rates six times higher than that of non-LGBT youth.
“In Colorado Springs and in El Paso County we have the fourth highest suicide rate in the nation,” said Mary Malia, Executive Director. “Last year there were 14 youth who completed suicide, this year we’ve had even more, and 50 to 60 percent of those youth are LGBT youth.”
Malia said there are at least 5,000 young people in our local schools who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning.
“They need services that help them,” she added.
On an average afternoon, Malia said Inside/Out sees anywhere from 5 to 25 LGBT youth and the organization serves an average of about 500 LGBT youth a year.
“When youth come in here they meet other kids like them. That’s a really powerful experience,” said Malia.
Malia said for many of them it’s the first time they realize they’re not alone.
“There’s a couple young men attending right now, 17 and 18-years-old, and when they first came in here they truly thought they were the only gay young men in Colorado Springs, like there weren’t any others,” said Malia. “They were terrified. They were lonely, they had no friends.”
She said after a few months of coming to Inside/Out they are now some of the happiest people they serve.
“They have a lot of hope for what the rest of their life is going to be like,” she said.
The colorful and creative space was designed for and by youth.
“There’s a lot of stuff here that’s symbolic of being an LGBTQ youth, everything from the flags, to the signs on the wall, to glitter and lots of fun things that help these youth learn to be comfortable with who they are.”
The center is meant to be a safe space where they can just be themselves.
“They meet supporting, helpful, safe adults in this space who don’t tell them who they are but encourage them to figure out who they are and accept them no matter what,” said Malia.
Malia said Inside/Out helps prepare these youth to become successful adults and by supporting Indy Give! the community can help too.
“When you support Inside/Out you’re helping us do this for a special group of young people who have some very special circumstances to overcome,” she said.
Inside/Out is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.