SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS)- Steven Simone is the director of youth and family education services at the Syracuse, Q Center. His job is making sure not only the staff is aware of any updates but how to make the center a safe place for people of the LGBTQ community.
The Q Center was created for the purpose of providing services and programs for members of a community who feel they don’t have a place to turn for help or acceptance. The center has programs such as: safer sex, reproductive health, financial literacy, and resume writing skills workshops. The center assists with name and gender change while making referrals for primary care. Also, providing help from their parent company A-C-R Health, to find a health insurance plan for members who don’t have one.
“So we offer a lot of training and education and that is, hopefully something that we can expand on you know, a lot of people are requesting education because I want to do what’s right not only like legal but also like, morally what is right by providing education necessary to make sure that we create and maintain safe spaces for LGBTQ youth around the state and around the counties that we serve.” Steven says.
Simone says the center has a homelessness program for LGBTQ youths between ages of 18 and 24. Many young people or young adults are kicked out of their homes, because of the disapproval of being who they are. The housing program provides a rental for at least two years. During the program everyone is assigned a case manager who helps with landlord negotiations.
The Q center provides parents and caregivers resources of their own to have an advocate to help them understand what their child is going through and finding affirming providers. Steven says not all systems that exist are as open as people think.
” We have a family peer advocate on staff. Our family peer advocate works with parents and caregivers of trans and gender expenses, specifically, children.” Steven says.
Simone gives his insight on the politics that is affecting the LGBTQ community. From parents avoiding their children, schools banning books that include gay rights content, and laws going against the community. He explains it is sad to see what has become especially how it affects the youth. The anti-LGBTQ laws increases the fear of those legislations following into New York State. There are protections in place for the LGBTQ community, due to New York being a haven state. But there are many other people across the country who do not have those same protections in place. Simone says, the Q center staff is seeing youths exhibit fear and anxiety, because of the harm the laws can cause.
Simone is proud of the work the Q center is doing and the influence it has on any LGBTQ youth who walks through the doors. Providing a safe place, no matter how much the outside world is trying make the community feel ashamed or disregarded. The Q center will always be a place where someone can find refuge, someone to talk to, and can be affirmed.
Derricka Settles, N-C-C News