Mountain View Voice

News - July 19, 2013

Outlet brings LGBT teen services to Palo Alto's ACS

by Chris Kenrick

Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS), a Palo Alto-based nonprofit service agency for teens in distress, announced it has acquired Outlet, a program serving gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

Outlet, a 16-year-old Mountain View program that aims to empower gay, bisexual and transgender youth, July 1 joined ACS's existing programs in on- and off-campus counseling, teen substance abuse treatment and community education.

Outlet, which runs confidential on- and off-campus support groups for youth who are questioning their sexuality, said joining ACS would help it reach its goal of expanding services to San Mateo County.

The agency, which previously was housed at the Community Health Awareness Council in Mountain View, and said it will continue to partner with CHAC to offer services there, while moving its administrative office to Palo Alto.

ACS Executive Director Philippe Rey said services for gay, bisexual and transgender youth are in keeping with his 38-year-old agency's mission of offering a "safe, warm, welcoming place of respite for troubled teens — a place where any young person could simply walk in and find a trusted adult in whom they could confide."

"The acquisition of Outlet will expand ACS's ability to provide targeted services to a community that is in great need of welcoming and personalized support," he said in a letter to ACS supporters.

Rey cited a recent Pew Research Center representative survey of 1,197 gay, bisexual and transgender individuals, in which 39 percent said they at some point had been rejected by a family member or close friend because of their sexual orientation or gender identity, 30 percent saying they had been physically attacked or threatened, 29 percent saying they'd been made to feel unwelcome at a place of worship and 21 percent saying they had been treated unfairly by an employer.

"Notably, the survey finds that 12 is the median age at which lesbian, gay and bisexual adults first felt they may be something other than heterosexual or straight," Rey said.

"For those who say they know for sure that they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, that realization came at a median age of 17," he said.

Rey said gay, bisexual and transgender youth are at high risk both for substance abuse and depression.

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