Introducing Southwest Rainbow Youth

Southwest Rainbow Youth co-founders pose together for a photo (L-R) Precious Collins, Trennie Collins, Edward Box III and Anthony Box.
McKayla Lee | The Southern Ute Drum

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Plus youth initiative will be the first of its kind to start in the Ignacio area and will be known as the Southwest Rainbow Youth (SWRY). The Rainbow Youth founders have vowed to bring awareness and support to the LGBTQ+ youth and parents by helping youth feel empowered, safe and encouraged to live their own proud life.

The founding members include Trennie Collins, Precious Collins, Edward Box III and Anthony Box. “We saw the need for this support to be offered in the community,” co-founder, Precious Collins stated. “We didn’t see anything like this in the area so we decided to get more involved.” Suicide attempts by LGBT youth and questioning youth are four to six times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers. In a national study, 40 percent of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt; 92 percent of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.

Across the nation, LGBT youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth they are also almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to non-LGBT youth. Already getting out into the community, the Rainbow Youth launched their interactive Facebook site where followers from near and far are already sharing their support and offering words of encouragement. “We are accepting and welcoming the support of the community,” SWRY co-founder Edward Box III shared.

Kicking off their first event, the SWRY are inviting youth, parents and allies out to a meet-and-greet function on Friday, March 15 at the Ignacio Community Library. “Come on out and see what we are about –we want our tri-ethnic community to be as involved as possible,” SWRY co-founder Anthony Box stated.

The rainbow youth participated in the Valentines Dance on Saturday, Feb. 9 at the Southern Ute Multi-Purpose Facility, where they sold homemade pies, cookies and more to the community. “Seeing all those awesome kids expressing themselves freely, enjoying their lives is what we want to provide — for all youth. No matter who they are, they all deserve the same respect and opportunity to become the person they want to be,” SWRY co-founder Precious Collins expressed.

According to their mission statement, “Southwest Rainbow Youth will be a safe, healthy, and inclusive place for the LGBTQ+ youth (13 to 18 yrs.).” Promoting leadership, unity and pride through community events, education programs, and collaboration as well as creating opportunities for youth to be seen and heard.

The SWRY are excited to collaborate, not only with the community but with the schools, parents and all allies. They plan to sponsor educational presentations for the area, by hosting events, and giving the youth opportunities to discuss the concerns or questions they may have.

The most accurate information for LGBTQ+ can be pulled from Gary Gates’ studies and surveys that were conducted over years of research at the University of Los Angeles’ Williams Institute. Gates has studied the LGBT community extensively and has concluded that there are approximately nine million members of the LGBT community, meaning that at least 3.5-.8 percent of Americans identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual and or transgender. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24. LGBT youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.

Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGBT youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.

One out of six students nationwide (grades 9–12) seriously considered suicide in the past year. Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.

“To support, empower, educate, and advocate for the LGBTG+ youth of the Ignacio area we are doing so much more than just providing a safe and inclusive environment – we are providing unity,” SWRY co-founder Trennie Collins stated. If you or someone you know is interested in joining the initiative contact the Southwest Rainbow Youth through their Facebook platform or send them an email at swrainbowyouth@gmail.com.

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