What is Rainbow Youth Alliance?
RYA is a support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning teens and their allies. RYA is a safe place to ask questions, find mutual support, and learn information pertinent to their lives.
Why do we need RYA?
Teen years are tough for most, and being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or questioning (LGBTQ) poses additional challenges. LGBTQ teens have higher suicide rates and are more than twice as likely to leave home and become homeless than other teens. Ninety percent of LGBTQ teens report being harassed in school.
Who can attend?
RYA is for 13-19 year-olds or anyone who is in high school.
What role does Towson Unitarian Universalist Church play?
TUUC provides meeting space to the RYA.
Why have meetings at Towson Unitarian Universalist Church?
TUUC's Mission and Vision calls on members and committees to transform its beliefs into action and to engage in social justice activities in its community. TUUC has a demonstrated commitment to educational programs, especially in areas that are not addressed by other institutions. Further, TUUC is a Welcoming Congregation, which commits the church to actively engage issues of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.
What do the letters L, G, B, T, and Q mean?
Lesbian (L) refers to women and girls who feel romantic, emotional, or physical attraction to other women.
Gay (G) means men and boys who feel romantic, emotional, or physical attraction to other men.
Bisexual (B) or Pansexual means romantic, emotional, or physical attraction to males, females, or people who don't identify as strictly male or female.
Transgender (T) refers to an individual who does not self-identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, whether or not they have begun to "transition" gender.
Queer (Q) is used by some who see their own gender or orientation as fitting somewhere the categories of straight, gay or lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning - but without limiting or labeling themselves. Queer can also mean a person who does not identify with a particular gender, i.e. genderqueer.
Questioning (also Q) refers to those who are unsure of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
Who is an ally?
Allies are people who openly support and affirm the rights and dignity of LGBTQ people, even if they do not identify in the LGBTQ spectrum themselves.
Will adults be at RYA meetings?
Yes, at least two adult facilitators must be at every RYA meeting.
How will the adults be chosen?
The adult facilitators are members of PFLAG Baltimore who have demonstrated a commitment to LGBTQ youth. All facilitators have survived a rigorous application process which includes interviews, contact with personal references, and background checks.
Will the adults have any special expertise in working with these young people?
RYA provides access to training for all facilitators. Training includes sensitivity to youth issues, how to address youth questions and concerns, meeting facilitation, and how to respond to problems.
Will RYA offer counseling or referral services?
No. RYA does not provide counseling or psychiatric services. RYA meetings are meant to be peer-to-peer groups where youth learn from each others' and the facilitators' experiences.
What are the youth going to do at the meetings?
Meetings begin with introductions and a chance to tell something about oneself. The group often goes over current events and anything else pertinent to any attendees' lives. Questions can be asked and most any topic is allowed for discussion if it is constructive. Sometimes movies are shown or speakers are invited to present. Teens participate in deciding on curricula and activities.
How will RYA ensure the safety of the youth?
RYA meetings are strictly for teens between the ages of 13 and 19. They are also smoke free, substance free, and weapon free. Violators of any of these ground rules will be required to leave the group. Two adults will be in the meetings at all times.
Do youth need parental permission to attend?
No, RYA's policy is that requiring parental permission would be a strong disincentive for some youth. It is important that all meetings be open to youth who need support due to their gender identity, gender expression, or orientation.