Updated: Apr 7, 2021
By Marissa Thompson, CCPRD Project Associate
The LGBTQ+ Center at Kenneth Young Center (KYC) is a safe space for youth and allies to express themselves, explore their identities, and find community with other LGBTQ+ youth (11-17) and young adults (18-24). Currently, we are the first and only full-time, drop-in center dedicated to serving the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in the Northwest suburbs. Our support services include young adult groups, a middle school support group, an LGBTQ+ parent support group, and a high school Youth Advisory Council (YAC).
The Rainbow Room Youth Advisory Council (YAC) is an LGBTQ+ and high school centered group that works together to identify and address relevant issues in their schools and community. Utilizing leadership and teamwork skills with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the YAC works to bring awareness to topics such as mental health and youth experiencing homelessness. Together, students in the YAC foster opportunities to deepen a feeling of connection to their peers and community. Our staff strives to create a safe space for all youth, including transgender, non-binary, black, cis or straight allies, indigenous, and youth of color.
Started in October of 2020, the Rainbow Room YAC was first made up of three executive board members that met weekly in order to establish the YAC as a group. Each of these leaders stresses the importance of making sure that the group is a safe place for queer youth with opportunities to positively impact the communities around them.
We asked one executive board member, Allison, to tell us a little more about herself and her experiences as a queer youth!
Hi Allison! Could you tell us your name, pronouns and what you like to do in your free time?
Allison Frank, she/her, Stevenson High School in Lincolnshire, and I do color guard and lead ASL club at my school and figure skate recreationally!
Besides being involved on the executive board with the YAC, what is your favorite part of being involved with the LGBTQ+ Center here at KYC?
I love being able to meet other people in the LGBTQ+ community and being able to do good in our local LGBTQ+ community with the help of my peers!
As you know, our YAC strives to make positive changes in the Q community, where do you see support needed in the Q Community?
I think we need to work on mental health and sex-ed resources for the LGBTQ+ community. These are so very important but not covered in schools.
What advice would you give to a middle school youth who may be struggling?
Reach out to someone, you don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to any local LGBTQ+ center or LGBTQ+ organization and they have resources for you. I wish I knew about places like KYC when I was struggling with my identity.
We often use the term “queer” as an umbrella term for all the beautiful identities and people we interact with here at KYC, what does being “queer” mean to you?
Being queer to me means being part of an amazing community of people who put love above all else.
Thanks for talking with us today! Do you have any social media or projects you’re working on that you’d like to plug?
Yes!!! I have my own not-for-profit organization called The Be You Tiful initiative. We offer free beauty and styling services for trans and non-binary people. You can find us at @beyoutiful.initiative on Instagram and Facebook. I also have a series of Instagram posts about mental health called “A Friend’s Guide”. These posts are aimed at friends of people struggling with mental health issues so that you can educate yourself to best be able to support them.
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