Empowering LGBTQ Youth at The Center
The San Diego LGBT Community Center, known as “The Center,” has focused on healthcare and advocacy for our LGBTQ population since the 1970s. Since its inception, The Center’s services have continually expanded to meet the increased needs of San Diegans. Adults, youth and parents can access resources at The Center, including mental health services, sexual health and wellness services, group counseling and housing support. In honor of San Diego Pride festivities this July, we celebrate the amazing work that The Center does in our region.
SDG&E creates space for employees to connect with the causes they care about most, while championing the diverse perspectives and lived experiences of its 4,600 employees. Over the last 5 years, employees alone have donated over $60,000 to The Center through their own personal charitable contributions. Recognizing the important role that The Center plays for our community and our employees; SDG&E invests shareholder contributions in the form of grants to support programs at The Center’s Hillcrest Youth Center.
The Center is committed to addressing issues that disproportionately impact the LGBTQ community, like housing and safe spaces for youth. In 2000, The Center first opened their youth center to serve high school students. After 22 years of renting space, The Center was able to purchase the forever home of the Hillcrest Youth Center (HYC) to be able to grow their services; the new HYC is more than double the size of the previous location. The new Hillcrest Youth Center is open and flourishing, serving LGBTQ individuals as young as 10 years old, as well as transitional-age youth ages 18-24. This youth center has many features that create a positive outlet for participants, including an art room, decompression room, library, gender-affirming closet and computer lab. Youth can drop in for social meetups by age group, housing assistance, and free private HIV testing and preventative resources. The Center was recently issued a challenge grant from San Diego Foundation, matching donations dollar for dollar up to $100,000 to support The Center’s outreach and programs for LGBTQ youth. Anyone can help The Center meet its goal by visiting bit.ly/HYC-match and making a gift.
Creating this safe space is crucial to ensure that LGBTQ youth feel supported, seen and heard. Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning the discussion of LGBTQ topics at school made their mental health a lot worse. The Hillcrest Youth Center provides educational support for students, helps them connect with one another, promotes mental health and ensures that San Diego youth know that they are not alone, and that they are loved.
“With increasing anti-LGBTQ legislation across the U.S., youth in San Diego need to know that they have a safe space here where they are welcomed, valued and supported,” said Gus Hernandez, Senior Director of Communications and Marketing at The Center.
In addition to HYC, the San Diego LGBT Community Center has a second youth center in Chula Vista, the South Bay Youth Center, and multiple shelter locations for the unhoused. Combatting housing and healthcare instability are two of the main functions of The Center, which provides more than 80,000 direct service visits annually.
To learn more about the San Diego LGBT Community Center, Inc. visit www.thecentersd.org.