The Inside Scoop
May 2020
Thank you for reading Youth Pride, Inc.'s May edition of The Inside Scoop! Within you will read about some of our new virtual programs, how we are supporting RI Pride's Emergency Supply Drive, how to sign up for our Virtual Lavender Graduation, and what community discussions are being had about COVID.
Little Unicorns
New Program for 13 and Unders
Before the outbreak of Covid-19 changed our ability to offer in-person programming, we had begun developing a new YPI program, called  Little Unicorns. Little Unicorns will be a space built for LGBTQ+ youth ages 5 to 9 to gather and socialize, while families can connect with each other and receive relevant information, resources, and support. We are excited to be reaching out to younger members of our community, and hope that our current 9 to 13 year-old youth will help us get this program launched with a little shine and sparkle!
Some of you may know Star Weasel, YPI's unofficial mascot. Star Weasel's first appearance was on a YPI banner (pictured right) many years ago. A group of youth drew the character and it stuck ever since. Currently a large paper-based Star Weasel is hanging in our drop-in center (pictured left). It was created several years ago by our youth who marched with it in the Pride Parade. Now that Little Unicorns is in the works, Star Weasel decided they need a friend to represent the group!

Star Weasel and YPI Staff are challenging 13 and under youth to  create a mascot  for Little Unicorns! If youth want to participate, please create an original character, image, or other design you feel could represent Little Unicorns, and by extension those who will be the youngest members of the YPI community, and send it to us! We will display all submissions in a virtual art gallery, and the creator of the submission we choose will win a prize!
Please send the image of your design in a viewable format (JPEG, PDF, or PNG) to YPI's Facebook Page or mail a copy of the design to our Drop-In Center (743 Westminster Street, Providence, RI, 02903) by   June 20, 2020 in order to be considered. Your submission does not need to be the physical drawing/design; we will gladly accept a photo, such as from your phone's camera, of the drawing/design. Youth can submit up to three ideas. When submitting mascot ideas, please indicate if it is okay for us to include the creator’s first name, age, and pronouns, as we will be displaying these designs publically. 
Dungeons and Dragons
Returns Virtually!
YPI is happy to announce we are continuing our partnership with Th e Imagination Guild  and are offering online sessions of Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) to our youth!

D&D is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that's been around 1974. The Imagination Guild cycles through introductionany "how to play" sessions and actual gameplay sessions throughout the month. We hope old and new players will join the fun!

Sessions will happen every Tuesday from 5-7pm Discord. Contact Dev@youthprideri.org to learn more and gain access to the Discord server!
Virtual Lavender Graduation
With current graduations being canceled or postponed due to COVID-19, Youth Pride, Inc. wants to make sure graduating seniors still get a moment to shine and bask in their accomplishments by hosting a Virtual Lavender Graduation this June! We envision having a few speakers and other traditional elements during the virtual ceremony, as well as sending all registered seniors rainbow tassels to turn during the virtual commencement. 

Lavender Graduation is open to all LGBTQ seniors in RI.
YPI Supports RI Pride Through Entertainment
Rhode Island Pride has really stepped up to assist Rhode Islanders during the pandemic. As of this writing, their all volunteer Emergency Food and Supply Drive has been operating for 8 consecutive weeks; having delivered food and supplies to over 9,453 Rhode Islanders. Recently, RI Pride reported a lack of funds, and possibly needing to put the drive on hold. In response, two of YPI's staff members found creative ways to fundraise on RI Pride's behalf.
Current YPI Director of Youth Services, Andy Taubman, also known as Randy Andy while in drag, produced and emceed, Kings in their Castles, a live benefit drag king show for Rhode Island Pride's drive! Over the course of the two hour live show, several different drag kings and queens strutted their stuff and lip-synched their hearts out live from their homes, aka their castles. A full list of performers is as followed: Bobby Fre$h, Loo D'Flyest Priestly, Captain Astryd, Sergeant George, Aaron Carhartt, Mael Storm, Lance Mandible, and Ms. Gender Ken Baby and of course, Randy Andy!
YPI's group facilitator, Lukas Hawthorne, is an active member of RKO Army. If you've seen a live production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, there is a high chance RKO Army were the presenters. RKO Army is a RI based shadowcast, meaning their actors perform on stage while a film simultaneously plays behind them on a theatre screen; the actors have screen-accurate costumes, sets and props to make their performance as accurate a recreation of the film as possible. Lukas lives with 7 other RKO Army cast members and took advantage of xyr unique living situation, and the current social distancing parameters, by presented The Rocky Horror Stay At Home Show - A Benefit Show for RI Pride, right from home. The group showed a prerecorded Rocky Horror Picture Show that they filmed in their apartment, yard, and outside a local church. There was also a live intro and outro with a Q&A session for the cast.

Between Kings in their Castle and The Rocky Horror Stay at Home Show , more than $5,500 was raised for RI Pride's COVID-19 Emergency Food and Supply Drive! We are so proud of Andy, Lukas, and everyone else involved in these endeavor. RI Pride is a great community partner to YPI, and we want to continue to help them help the community for as long as possible. If you are interested in contributing to their efforts, a link to their website is below.

A rerun of The Rocky Horror Stay at Home Show is tentatively planned for May 23, so follow their Facebook page for updates. Andy will also host future drags events and encourages everyone to check out their Facebook page for announcements.
YPI Resources
Are you really missing drop-in hours? Need someone to talk to? Are you experiencing crisis? Have concerns, fears or mental health needs that you need to express to someone? Here are a couple of resources for you that were compiled by YPI staff.
Monthly Spotlight
AIDS Project Rhode Island
Even though Rhode Island has been under stay-at-home orders since March, that has not stopped AIDS Project Rhode Island (APRI) from offering virtual services and education to the community!

APRI is launching Keep It Up! an online program for gay and bi+ men ages 18-29 that gives them an opportunity to learn more about HIV, STDs/STIs, dating, safer sex strategies, mental/emotional health, and many other topics. From home, participants will watch five 45-minute clips that impart knowledge on all the facets mentioned above.

Interested participants should contact APRI's Peer Health Navigator, Gene Hernandez at 401-996-6142 or send an email to  hello@aprihealth.org.
COVID Panel for Students & Community Leaders
Generation Citizen is a nonprofit organization and champion advocate for democracy and civics. On Thursday, May 14th from 3:30-4:30pm, the organization will be hosting hosting a live panel discussion, “Learning Through Crisis Together”. This panel offers the opportunity for community leaders and students to connect and discuss how schools, communities and students are facing the challenges of COVID. Viewers will also hear reflections and feedback from students on how their lives have been impacted and the ideas they have to move forward together.

The panel consists of Council President Sabina Matos of Providence; Dr. Steven LaBounty-McNair, Education Specialist with RIDE; Dr. Barbara Mullen, Chief Equity and Diversity Officer of PPSD; and Alondra Cepeda, Generation Citizen Student Leadership Board Member.
Human Rights Campaign Brief on LGBTQ Population and COVID
While everyone has been affected by COVID-19 to some extent, are certain populations or communities more at risk? The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) recently published an issue brief that outlined how and why the pandemic is adversely affecting members of the LGBTQ community at disproportionate rates. The brief is titled, The Lives and Livelihoods of Many in the LGBTQ Community are at Risk Amidst COVID-19. A link to the brief in full is below.

Employment is one of the largest factors when assessing risks for COVID-19. Certain professions put individuals at a higher risk for contracting or spreading the virus; the most risky being professions that require a lot of person to person contact such as restaurants and food services, hospitals, K-12 and higher education, and retail industries. According to the brief, of the estimated 14 million LGBTQ adults that live in the United States, 2 million (15% of all LGBTQ adults) work in restaurants and food services, 1 million (7.5%) work in hospitals, almost 1 million (7%) work in K-12 education, almost 1 million (7%) work in colleges and universities, and half of a million (4%) work in retail. Some of these industries also do not provide healthcare benefits to their employees, making it more difficult for workers to seek diagnosis and treatment. The HRC found that "17% of LGBTQ adults do not have any kind of health insurance coverage, compared to 12% of non-LGBTQ adults". 

Lack of support is also a critical concern for LGBTQ individuals during this time. It is so important now more than ever to offer emotional and physical support to those around us to ease the stress, uncertainly, and hardship caused by the pandemic. Woefully, the HRC reports that two groups within the LGBTQ community are severly lacking support right now; LGBTQ elders and LGBTQ youth. According to SAGE, the country's largest and oldest organization dedicated to LGBTQ elders, older LGBTQ individuals are now "twice as likely to be living alone and four times less likely to have children, which means that older LGBTQ people are especially at risk to lack care or support from family". Similarly, many LGBTQ youth are now forced to be at home with unsupportive families or are facing unstable housing/homelessness due to family rejection. Homelessness is not uncommon for LGBTQ youth, the briefing reports "LGBTQ youth are 120% more likely to experience homelessness than non-LGBTQ youth", and it must be recognized that many of these same youth rely on the food and resources provided by public schools and child welfare agencies that are now either not operating or operating at a limited capacity.

The HRC concludes their briefing by urging the government, policymakers, and the private sector to take the unique needs of the LGBTQ population, along with other marginalized groups, into consideration as plans for dealing with the pandemic continue to form.
Our Mission
Mission:
Youth Pride, Inc. is dedicated to meeting the unique needs of youth and young adults impacted by sexual orientation and gender identity/expression while working to end the homophobic and transphobic environments in which they live, work and play.

Values:
LEADERSHIP:  YPI is committed to creating the leaders of today. Youth voices drive our process, and we seek to develop the leadership skills necessary both within the organization and outside of it.
AFFIRMATION:  YPI believes all youth must be affirmed for who they are and how they express themselves. We are committed to making that a reality in all of the environments in which young people live.
COMMUNITY:  YPI believes building strong connections is essential to youth success and empowerment. We strive to create a caring, respectful and diverse community of young people and adults.
Your tax-deductible donation helps YPI continue to do the important work we do in accordance to our mission. Your gift would be directly investing in our state's LGBTQ youth so that they may have a chance to share their gifts and light with the world.
Our Programs and Services
Youth Pride, Inc. serves over 700 Rhode Island LGBTQ youth and their straight allies a year through a variety of programs and services.
Our Center, located on Westminster Street in Providence, primarily serve as a drop-in and programming space, and is currently open to youth ages 13 to 23 on Tuesday and Wednesday from 3-8pm and Thursday from 3 to 5. Youth ages 9 to thirteen are welcome at our exclusive 13 and under drop-in time on Thursdays from 5-8 pm. All YPI Center services and activities are free to youth. YPI youth get to attend events, workshops, cultural, educational, social, and wellness activities at YPI and around the state.

Our center is home to a Basic Needs Pantry, open to youth in need of food, clothing, toiletries, and school supplies. We offer one on one counseling with in-house clinicians. Our clinicians facilitate and supervise three peer-support groups.

YPI also offers support to those who work with youth through policy and advocacy, and by providing professional development workshops and technical assistance to service providers and educators.

For more information on getting involved with YPI as a volunteer or if you or someone you know is in need of our services, contact info@youthprideri.org
If you have a story you feel should be included in an upcoming newsletter, email Info@youthprideri.org