According to Resource Center Board Member and volunteer Fran Badgett,
“I grew up trans in Dallas before there was an understanding of what that meant. I didn’t know any other transgender people until I was well into college. When I was introduced to the Center’s Youth First program and the amazing work provided by its staff and devoted volunteers, it’s difficult to state how moved I was. Youth First is a lifesaving program, and I cannot imagine how different my path would have been if I’d had access to something similar in my earlier life.
“The Youth First program at Resource Center addresses the challenges lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) youth face at home, in school, and in their community, providing meaningful and life-changing programs and activities that build self-confidence and improve the health and well-being of our community’s LGBTQ youth during their critical, formative years. The only program of its kind in Dallas County, Youth First serves middle and high school LGBTQ youth, ages 12 to 18, and offers access to an inclusive and welcoming environment where they are physically and emotionally safe and their identities are embraced.
“Youth First provides the comfort of a community where LGBTQ teens can be themselves without fear of bullying or discrimination. The Tuesday Night Gender Identity group offers transgender, questioning and allied youth a place to safely interact with one another. Watching the process of a first-time attendee shyly entering the room and begin to open up and share their experiences, fears, and hopes is astonishing.
“The Pride Ball Prom held in the spring is an annual highlight of Youth First’s programming. Prom remains a stressful experience for many LGBTQ adolescents compounded when some schools still prevent same-gendered couples from attending. Offering this free event to youth across the Dallas Metroplex is essential. The joy on the teens’ faces when they enter a room full of people that they have something in common with is an exuberant spectacle and they talk about it for weeks after.
“My wish this holiday season is for the community to donate time or money to the Youth First program. These funds allow the Center to provide access to meaningful activities including Friday Family Dinners, support groups, art activities and field trips.
“If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of the LGBTQ teens in North Texas, contact Community Programs Manager Cami Fields at [email protected] or visit www.myresourcecenter.org/youth for more information.”