I’m always impressed by how Side by Side makes an impact on LGBTQ+ youth in and outside of the center’s walls. In addition to youth programming, Side by Side staff regularly conducts trainings with schools, and other human service providers across the state. In this year alone, staff trained over 3,000 teachers, counselors, and administrators.
Back in 2000, James River High School was the recipient of Side by Side’s community support. When I and other students worked to create the school’s first Gay Straight Alliance, Side by Side was there to provide assistance and guidance. The club gained approval from school administration and became one of the first GSAs in Chesterfield County.
Last month, James River’s current GSA president invited me back to speak with the group. Side by Side’s Micky Jordan joined me for a discussion with about 40 students. I was inspired by the bright and brilliant youth and impressed with the turnout: When I was in high school, we were excited when 10 people attended a meeting.
I’m thankful that James River’s GSA continues to be a safe space and an opportunity for dialogue for LGBTQ+ students and allies. And I’m grateful for Side by Side’s support years ago – because it’s paying dividends today.