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The Attic Youth Center makes big gains for LGBTQIA+ people in Philly

The Attic Youth Center, whose catchy motto is “A safe space where it’s ok2bu,” was one of a select list of organizations to receive part of Philly AIDS Thrift’s $372,000 donation. Philly AIDS Thrift, founded in 2005 to raise money for HIV and AIDS prevention and support, is a thrift store selling everything from mismatched crockery to lampshades, books and antique sculptures. This month (February, 2023) it made a bigger donation than ever before, and its total amount of donations over its 17-year history amounts to a whopping $4 million. Its team chose a list of 34 organizations to benefit, including The Attic Youth Center, which aims to help LGBTQIA+ youth feel less alone.

The Attic Youth Center is Chosen

The Attic Youth Center carries out important work, providing opportunities for LGBTQIA+ youth to develop into civic-minded, healthy, happy people who thrive within a safe, supportive community. To some degree, the tolerance for sexual diversity has improved, at least as portrayed in the media. More people are aware of the different sexual orientations and genders, and there is greater recognition of the fact that both are fluid and located on a spectrum. However, many LGBTQIA+ youth continue to face oppression and prejudice. The Human Rights Watch report, Hatred in the Hallways: Violence and Discrimination against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Students in US Schools, indicated that rampant discrimination and bullying exist against schools in the country. More recently, The Trevor Project’s 2022 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health showed that rates of suicidal ideation (thinking about suicide) have risen among LGBTQIA+ young people over the last three years. This makes the work of organizations like The Attic Youth Center all the more important.

A Short but Important History

The Attic Youth Center opened its doors in an effort to offer LGBTQIA+ youths a place where they could make friends and receive guidance from trusted adults. It serves those aged 14 to 23, and offers counseling, the distribution of hygienic products, a food pantry, housing placement, and training to outside organizations and businesses. Many youths head to The Attic for companionship, support, and comfort after facing homophobia and transphobia at schools and/or colleges. This hub served as a critical source of support during lockdown, but continues to offer necessary supplies, serving between 40 and 50 youth every day. Many people also head to The Attic to find help with safe housing, after failing to receive required support from their families or caregivers.

Why Safe Spaces are Important

Having a safe space to head to is invaluable for youths whose everyday lives may lack the positivity they need to thrive. Madelyn Morrison, director of the Bryson Institute at The Attic, first came across this youth center when she was just 14. Today, it is her life’s passion, as her aim is to provide what she lacked in her teens—someone to take up the battle to provide love, support, and guidance for youths in need.

The Attic Youth Center is one of 35 organizations to have received part of Philly AIDS Thrift’s $372,000 donation. The center made the list owing to the vital work it carries out for LGBTQIA+ youth. The center is a meeting point as well as a source of supplies and information for youths; a safe haven where youths are free to just be themselves.

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