Indiana: Safe Haven in Spotlight
April 9, 2012
The United Way's Indiana Youth Group (IYG) serves about 760 young people coping with sexual orientation issues, offering some 20 support groups out of a converted home on Indianapolis' Northside.
The tobacco-, alcohol- and drug-free center has onsite adult mentors who work to boost the self-esteem of LGBT youths ages 12-20. IYG gives "kids the chance to know they are not alone," said Pamela June, a clinical child-psychologist who has worked in Indianapolis' and Pike Township's middle and elementary schools. Support groups guide youths through topics ranging from relationship advice to coming out to family and friends, said IYG Program Manager Christie Clayton.
All support groups are age-appropriate, said Clayton. "If we are talking about things of sexual nature that involve mature content, then we use discretion," she said. Discussions stress health and safety, said IYG Executive Director Mary Byrne. "We don't preach abstinence, but we definitely support that until a young person is mature enough to handle [sex]," said Byrne. The center also offers HIV and STD testing, and it makes condoms available.
Recently, IYG came under fire after some conservatives protested a specialty license plate benefitting the group. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles issued the plate in December following a lawsuit filing by IYG. But a few months later, state senators found a contractual miscue and persuaded BMV to revoke the plate. The matter will likely be settled in court.
04.01.2012; Chris Sikich
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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