South Bay Community Services has created a safe place for youths who are part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
A youth drop-in center called Our Safe Place will host an official grand opening Dec. 8 at its 746 Ada St. location, near the Palomar trolley station.
Our Safe Place will be open every day of the week with hours Monday to Friday from noon to 8 p.m. and 2 to 10 p.m. on the weekends.
The center is a partnership with SBCS, San Diego Youth Services, County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency and the YMCA and will give people access to social engagements, youth support groups and mentor services.
“You can come in and get to know other peers and relate to other youths,” said Kelsey O’Brien, connections coach.
“Families could also come in and receive services and talk with other caregivers or parents on how to raise an LGBTQ youth.”
O’Brien said a center like this is much needed because statistics show LGBTQ youths need safe places. She said compared to their heterosexual peers, LGBT youths are five times more likely to have been injured in a physical fight, three times more likely to have experienced dating violence, three times more likely to have been raped, four times more likely to have attempted suicide and five to seven times more likely to have used heavy drugs.
The center will also provide mental health driven programs where staff can perform assessments to see if clinical services are needed. O’Brien said if it is decided that someone needs clinical services they will be referred to San Diego Youth Services.
O’Brien said to create a safe place, youths at the center will be screened to make sure they don’t have suicidal thoughts and other effects.
The main LGBTQ center in Hillcrest frequently held workshops in South Bay but there was never a drop-in place or center for people to come to, Chavez said.
“There has never really been a set location where we can work with our LGBTQ,” she said.
O’Brien said they make it a point to have all of the center’s staff part of the LGBTQ community so they can relate to youths and to have the skills and knowledge to know about LGBTQ needs.
Chavez said SBCS plans to reach out to local school districts, clinics, nonprofits and legislatures informing them about the center so they can refer people to it.