CenterLink, strengthening, supporting and connecting LGBTQIA2S+ community centers
CenterLink serves as an essential resource for LGBTQIA2S+ organizations throughout the world. They aim to help build the capacity of their 290 member centers by helping centers improve their organizational and service delivery capacity, access public resources, and engage their local and regional communities in social justice movements. By addressing these challenges, CenterLink enables LGBTQIA2S+ member organizations to address social, cultural, health, and political advocacy needs.
Every day at the National Runaway Safeline we hear from LGBTQIA2S+ youth about their encounters with discrimination and bullying, their desire to run away, being rejected and kicked out of their home after coming out, and more. While much has been accomplished in the last decade that makes the U.S. a safer place for those who identify as LGBTQIA2S+, youth in this community still face unique pressures and marginalization.
LGBTQIA2S+ youth have higher rates of depression, anxiety and risk for suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. Also, according to researchers at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, LGBTQIA2S+ youth are among the most at-risk sub populations for homelessness and are more than twice as likely to experience homelessness as their non-LGBTQIA2S+ peers.
“We find that when centers are able to help youth establish healthy social connections, create safe places to live and work and offer positive affirmations, these young people are less likely to run away,” said Deborah Levine, Director of YouthLink. “Community, advocacy and affirmation are all essential to supporting LGBTQIA2S+ youth.”
YouthLink, a program of CenterLink, provides networking opportunities for center leaders and youth program staff, peer-based technical assistance and training, and a variety of capacity building services.
To support youth at risk of homelessness, some of CenterLink’s members provide short-term housing or referrals to shelters, offer social and emotional support, and empower parents and families to engage in affirming behaviors.
Levine said, “We have seen positive cultural shifts and are hopeful we can encourage even greater acceptance of LGBTQIA2S+ youth. To achieve this, centers are continually helping families understand their behavior and the consequences of their actions, and coaching families on how to change and eliminate negative behaviors.”
We thank CenterLink for being a partner in National Runaway Prevention Month and look forward to following their meaningful work throughout November and beyond.
More information about CenterLink can be found at lgbtcenters.org.