Hi, I am 16 years old and currently struggling with my sexuality. Because of my struggles, I want to help others out with the time I have over the summer, but it’s so hard to find an organization that accepts volunteers under 18. I know you have to be 18 to volunteer at the Trevor Project, but are there, by ANY chance, that some organization out there, that you know of, accept young volunteers like me? Please, i REALLY really want to help out!! any kind of volunteering work is better than nothing!
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Thanks for writing to the Trevor Project.
It sounds from your letter that you are a very mature and practical person. I know how hard it can be when you are struggling with your own sexuality. This process can take time and it’s important that the steps you take happen only when you feel safe and right about them. It’s often the case that when we are struggling ourselves, our empathy for the struggles of others is hugely increased. I think it’s great that this has led you to want to help others.
You are right when you say that you need to be 18 or older to work with The Trevor Project. However there are volunteer opportunities that you can take part in.
I’m going to give you a couple of places to start looking. Check these sites out and I’m sure you’ll find a way to help others and yourself and to make the world a better place for everyone.
First organisation is the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to ensure safe schools for ALL students. On their website at www.glsen.org click on “what we do” where you can find programs which may help people in your school become more understanding and supportive of LGBTQ students. One program is called “A Day of Silence” which brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. Each year, the event has grown, now with hundreds of thousands of students coming together to encourage schools and classmates to address the problem of anti-LGBT behavior. Another program is the No Name-Calling Week which is a week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to foster a dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities. On GLSEN’s website, there are also links to articles and blogs where you can learn how students at other schools are educating each other on the subject of intolerance. GLSEN also has information on how to start a GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) which is a student club that work to improve school climate for all students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression. It’s a place where students can come together, offer support to one another and help make your school a more accepting place. On http://www.gsanetwork.org/resources/start.html you can get information on how to start a GSA.
Another great place to check out is TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org. It’s the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you’re having about how to volunteer in their comunities.
A couple of links for you to check out are:http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=726&Itemid=336 you’ll find the brochure “I Think I Might Be Gay…Now What Do I Do?” This might be a great place for you to find answers to your own questions about your sexuality. And also have a look at http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf
Good luck on your journey and remember that The Trevor Project is always here for you. You can call or email us whenever you need to.