Massachusetts has a history of supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights, and in 2004 became the first state in the country to legalize same-sex marriage with passage of the Marriage Equality Act. The LGBT civil rights movement is widely considered to have begun in June 1969 when police and patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, clashed. As CivilRights.org explains: “At the time, there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.” To commemorate this milestone, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month is celebrated every June with parades and advocacy for LGBT rights.
Gay or straight, adolescence can be a challenging time in a person’s life. Having a safe environment for young people to “come out” and be themselves in is very important to the Commonwealth, as evidenced by the creation of the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth, which was founded to “recommend and advocate to all branches of state government effective policies, programs, and resources for LGBT youth to thrive.” Below is a list of organizations across the Commonwealth and the nation that are working hard to make Massachusetts a safe and healthy environment for LGBT youth.
- A statewide program, Safe Spaces for GLBT Youth provides “opportunities for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth to develop their full potential in a safe and supportive environment” through youth leadership development and peer-to-peer support.
- The Sidney Borum Jr. Health Center, located at 130 Boylston Street in Boston, provides general health and wellness services, mental health services, HIV and STD testing and treatment, birth control and emergency contraception, and assistance in finding health insurance to LGBT men and women age 12-29.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – LGBT Health provides information pertaining to LGBT health issues, including dealing with sexual orientation-based violence.
Violence and Suicide Prevention:
- StopBullying.gov is devoted to ending bullying in all forms, including creating a safe environment for LGBT youth.
- It Gets Better Project – Governor Patrick wants you to know It Gets Better. Also, check out these “It Gets Better” videos from President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and others at the White House.
- The Trevor Project is a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth.
Social & Advocacy Groups:
- BAGLY – Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth
- CIGSYA – Cape & Islands Gay Straight Youth Alliance
- GLAD – Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders
- NAGLY – North Shore Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth
- PFLAG – Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays has a list of Massachusetts chapters on its website.
Additional resources can be found on the Massachusetts Commission on LGBT Youth’s website.