WAGLY Grant from Foundation for MetroWest Targets Transgender Students, more

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FRAMINGHAM, Mass.—The West Suburban Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth (WAGLY), founded in March 2011, has received a grant from Foundation for MetroWest to support its Umbrella program for transgender and gender-nonconfirming youth. The award was based on the recommendation of students in the Foundation for MetroWest’s Youth in Philanthropy Program and was approved by the Foundation’s Board of Trustees. Youth in Philanthropy is a hands-on program that teaches students the fundamentals of grant making, giving back to the community, and the nonprofit world.

Youth in Philanthropy students joined WAGLY leaders in the fall to evaluate WAGLY’s Umbrella program. Jack Lewis, Executive Director, and Marie Caradonna, Director of Programs, met with the students to discuss the need for additional meetings for the Umbrella teens.

Lewis noted, “The students from the Youth in Philanthropy Program were very articulate and asked very astute questions about our program. We were excited not only to discuss the need for expanded Umbrella meetings but also to inform more area youth about the opportunities provided by our program.” [pullquote]The West Suburban Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer Youth (WAGLY), founded in March 2011, has received a grant from Foundation for MetroWest to support its Umbrella program for transgender and gender-nonconfirming youth.[/pullquote]

Umbrella makes it possible for high-school students to meet other transgender teenagers and connect with transgender adult facilitators, who serve as mature, trustworthy role models. This program, created in January 2012 at the request of a local youth, doubled its number of meetings to twice a month earlier this year because of this grant.  The extra meetings have made it possible to provide additional support, social activities, and educational programming to this population.  “Umbrella is one of the greatest things that I’ve been a part of,” says one student. “It’s helped me make friends, become more comfortable with myself, and given me an opportunity to practice my leadership skills.” [pullquote]Umbrella makes it possible for high-school students to meet other transgender teenagers and connect with transgender adult facilitators, who serve as mature, trustworthy role models. [/pullquote]

Umbrella currently draws teenagers from over 20 towns across MetroWest Boston, reflecting the dearth of comparable services for this population in the area. According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, transgender students experience a higher rate of bullying than students who identify with their assigned birth sex. Groups like Umbrella provide these students with a safe haven and caring environment, reducing the risks that are documented to exist for this population—depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidal ideation. By extension, Umbrella helps make MetroWest Boston a more inclusive, welcoming environment for youth and adults alike.

The Foundation for MetroWest has been a critically important supporter of WAGLY since its inception.  Through several Youth in Philanthropy grants, the Foundation has helped WAGLY expand both its programming and outreach to youth in MetroWest Boston and has assisted WAGLY in positioning itself as the epicenter of GLBTQ youth life in the area. [pullquote]According to the 2011 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, transgender students experience a higher rate of bullying than students who identify with their assigned birth sex.[/pullquote]

WAGLY meets weekly on non-holiday Mondays at 6:45 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society of Wellesley Hills, located at 309 Washington Street, Wellesley Hills, MA.  Umbrella meets at the same location on the first Monday and third Thursday of each month.

For more information about WAGLY and Umbrella, see www.WAGLY.org or www.facebook.com/WAGLY or contact Jack Lewis at info@wagly.org or 508-875-2122.

[From a News Release]

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