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We Are Family began in April 1995 under the direction of Tom Myers, the father of a gay son. Tom recognized the need for support for LGBTQ+ youth, and WAF was born from the love of a father for his son. WAF, We Are Family, initially focused on the use of direct mail to provide constructive information to people and community leaders that LGBTQ+ youth would normally seek out for counsel and support. The staff sought out speaking engagements whenever possible, at churches and other public places to spread a message of understanding and acceptance. In early 1997, WAF began to offer direct services (SafeSpace) to LGBTQ+ youth in the Tri-County area through a weekly peer support group.
Since then, WAF has grown to offer several programs that include: peer discussion groups (SafeSpace, QueerSpace, and QTPOC), Queer Prom, Spirit Day, LGBTeach, Trans Love Fund, and Closet Case Thrift Store. 2017-2018, WAF also partnered with the Riley Center for Livable Communities to lead the YOUth Count, the first ever study of youth homelessness in Charleston County that identified 62 individuals under the age of 25 who were housing insecure, 38% of whom identified as LGBTQ+.
We are the oldest and ONLY LGBTQ+ youth organization in the state of South Carolina! Help us continue to serve and support queer and trans youth
There are an estimated 125-175 youth living in places not fit for human habitation in Charleston County – much higher than the 33 individuals identified by the Lowcountry PIT Count in seven counties.
38% of youth interviewed experiencing homelessness identify as LGBTQ+
LGBTQ+ students are both more likely to be housing insecure and food insecure. Why? Familial rejection appears to be a central risk factor.
Thirty-five percent of the LGBTQ+ population in the United States lives in the South, where they are more likely to lack employment protections, earn less than $24,000 a year, and report that they cannot afford food or healthcare.
LGBTQ+ youth and youth who have been in foster care are more likely to be victims of sex trafficking.
LGBTQ+ youth rejected by their families are...
8.4 times more likely to attempt suicide
5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression
3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs
3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sex (which puts them at higher risks of contracting HIV and other STDs)
Other LGBTQ+ Youth Concerns & Risk Factors
Suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youth nationally.
30% of gay youth attempt suicide near the age of 15.
Almost half of gay and lesbian teens state they have attempted suicide more than once.
48% of LGB youth ages 14-21 said suicidal thoughts were clearly or at least somewhat related to their sexual orientation (lifetime).
Over 33% trans youth attempt suicide
We Are Family Protective Factors
Familial Acceptance & Nurturance
Connection to affirming communities/environments
Ability to self-define and theorize one’s gender/sexual orientation