Big Brothers Big Sisters of America (BBBSA) believes “inherent in every child is the ability to succeed and thrive in life.” In order to ensure all children and youth can reach their potential, the organization supports the largest mentoring network in the United States and has been operating for more than 100 years.
The existence or absence of caring adults in the lives of young people can make or break their ability to meet their potential. This is especially true for young people facing challenging circumstances. HRC’s survey of LGBTQ young people found that LGBTQ youth are less likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to have supportive adults in their lives. One out of three LGBTQ youth surveyed reported not having a caring adult that they could talk to about their problems
With this reality in mind, BBBSA has undertaken impressive efforts to ensure LGBTQ young people receiving mentoring services (“Littles”) and their LGBTQ adult volunteers (“Bigs”) are welcomed, supported, and affirmed. In fact, the organization’s president & CEO, Pam Iorio, spoke of this commitment at HRC’s Time to THRIVE conference in April. HRC Youth Ambassador Miles Sanchez’s Big Ava Cohen was honored at the conference.
As part of these efforts, last Friday, June 2, HRC Foundation’s Deputy Director, Children, Youth & Families Program, Alison Delpercio was on hand at BBBSA national headquarters in Tampa to help train its staff. Nia Clark of the LA LGBT Center’s LifeWorks program and Christian Rummell of American Institutes for Research (AIR) co-led the training, a large part of which was adapted from HRC’s All Children – All Families training series.
HRC, LifeWorks and AIR are working with BBBSA on a pilot program bringing LGBTQ training and policy/practice improvement resources to many of its affiliates across the country. This work will truly transform the lives of LGBTQ young people and LGBTQ caring adults looking to make a difference in a child’s life.