Make it better now - Page 4

QUEER ISSUE: The queer youth of LYRIC build community and fight discrimination without waiting for the adults

Lolo (left) and Ose found a place to be themselves at LYRIC

Even in San Francisco, harassment is a reality in youth programs and schools. In 2009, the SFUSD studied Youth Risk Behavior in San Francisco's elementary through high school public schools, and found that more than 80 percent of students reported hearing anti-gay remarks at school, and more than 40 percent said they had never heard school staff stop others from making those remarks. The survey also found that students who identified as LGBT were significantly more likely than their peers to report skipping school out of concern for their safety.

Queer youth will never stop finding informal networks of support. But structured settings like LYRIC can be vital. At places like LYRIC, youth find the community, the love, and the friends that Savage promised would appear with time — before they turn 18.

"It's easier to build relationships and to build community when its structured, when it has a little bit of structure like, hey, this is a queer specified setting, we're going to talk to each other, we're going to hang out, we're gonna do this, and then you kind of build community off of that. And because it's based on identity, you feel more comfortable to talk about that," Mia explained. "You have to change your reality. And you have to be the one to change it for yourself. Because ain't nobody gonna make it better for you."

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