Dear Friends, Youth, and Supporters of Inside Out Youth Services,
Starting Monday, March 16, Inside Out Youth Services will join El Paso County school districts, and LGBTQ+ centers across the United States in temporarily closing our facility. This necessary action is an attempt to slow the spread of the COVID-19 infection. The closure will be from March 16 through April 6, 2020 and we will be continually evaluating next steps alongside our school district, health partners, and LGBTQ+ center partners.
It is never easy to close our center and our services. We know how much our brave space means to the countless LGBTQ+ youth we serve. But we believe that strong, urgent action must be taken to prevent the spread of this disease and to protect lives.
During this time, we will be moving to moderated online groups run by our youth program staff and mental health clinician so that we can continue building resilience and community during this unprecedented time. Youth will still be able to access our staff by calling a center line during drop-in hours. More details on this process will be send to our program participants once available. We will not have access to our center phone line at this time.
All staff will be working remotely during this closure.
Your ongoing support is essential during this critical time; please consider making an additional donation to offset the costs of this unanticipated emergency by clicking here. Our lifesaving work cannot—and will not—pause despite current situational challenges, and we need your help to ensure our youth continue to thrive in the face of any obstacle.
Recognizing that is important for us all to stay updated on guidance from public health officials we are following the advice from the Center for Disease Control and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
Finally, times like this always serve as a reminder of the barriers and health inequities many of those in our community face because of discrimination and stigma. Inside Out Youth Services has signed onto an open letter in partnership with the National LGBT Cancer Network recognizing our community’s particular vulnerabilities:
The LGBTQ+ population uses tobacco at rates that are 50% higher than the general population. COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that has proven particularly harmful to smokers.
The LGBTQ+ population has higher rates of HIV and cancer, which means a greater number of us may have compromised immune systems, leaving us more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections.
LGBTQ+ people continue to experience discrimination, unwelcoming attitudes, and lack of understanding from providers and staff in many health care settings, and as a result, many are reluctant to seek medical care except in situations that feel urgent—and perhaps not even then.
Since our inception in 1990, we have worked to combat these health risks for the youth we serve. It continues to be our greatest honor to do this vital work.
Jessie Pocock, Executive Director