Big changes lie ahead for Alliance Youth Program

Big changes are occurring all over the Alliance, and the Youth Program is no different. An energetic group of 10 volunteers have come together to help organize and provide options for young LGBTQ+ people in the community.

The youth program has run for many years; however when the drop-in center was lost and the agency needed to become leaner, attendance at youth events dropped significantly. We are happy to say that with the new facility and new team, there has been a resurgence in our youth program.

Volunteers range from teachers, to a social worker, a therapist, a former youth housing counselor, and even past Youth Program participants. “It’s the right mix of experience and excitement to push forth an ambitious agenda for our Youth Program,” said BJ Scanlon, Lead Program Volunteer.  “We are constantly surveying young people to see what they want to do and we are expanding our services into three programing categories that focus on community building, social and educational engagement, and self-care and personal development.”

Scanlon has been volunteering with the youth program almost since he moved to Rochester in 2008. His first interaction was establishing a connection to the drop-in center through his position in street outreach at the Center for Youth Services, and he has stayed with program for almost ten years. “Young people are really a terrific population, they are discovering new things constantly and forming their world views. I learn from them, and they learn from the great team of volunteers we have as well. I’m excited to see where this program will go,” said Scanlon.

The youth program continues to offer a monthly U-DJ Dance and semi-annual lock-in, Big Queer Prom, and Gay Days at the Fair, all part of the Q-Munity initiative. This fall the team is excited to bring back a weekly drop-in for youth that has been on hiatus for several years.

Other offerings include the B-Out initiative that looks to connect youth with six-to-eight-week clubs that focus on a wide variety of subject matters. This fall the Youth Program will have its second movie club focusing on drag in cinema, and will partner with Rochester Broadway Theatre League and Writers and Books for Out on Stage. Youth will be provided a copy of Fun Home lead them through workshops about the theater, LGBTQ+ history, and culminate with youth attending a live performance of the Tony Award winning musical.

Finally, the U-Matter initiative will focus on providing supportive groups for young people. Already a group for transgender and gender expansive youth meets monthly. The TANGENT group meets at 5:30 the first Tuesday of each month at the Alliance office, 100 College Ave. Plans are underway for additional groups that focus on coming out and leadership. Stay tuned for all the great things happening with the youth program.


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