Why We Need The Rainbow Youth Center

There was not an organization tasked specifically with providing for the unique emotional, educational and developmental needs of LGBTQ youth within a four hour drive of Durango until now.

  • 57% of trans youth with unsupportive families will attempt suicide before the age of 24. With a supportive family environment, this goes down to 4%. LGBTQ youth are at a much greater risk of attempting suicide, 4-6 TIMES higher that cisgender and straight kids.

  • This research also shows that 15% of youth will either be kicked out or run away from home due to abuse related to their identity. In school, 24% have reported being physically attacked due to their gender identity and/or expression and 17% have left school due to the maltreatment.

  • Our immediate dreams/need is for a larger space with options for multiple activities and programming running simultaneously. Our goal is to be open at least 5 days a week and have paid staff to support that goal. Ideally our space would be large enough to accommodate a parent support group as well as meetings for larger groups with community stakeholders.

  • Long term goals include a youth homeless shelter, satellite locations in smaller area towns, and a bus for transporting youth to and from activities.


The Facts

According to data from the 2015 National School Climate Survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), in Colorado schools:


57.6% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, & 43.3% because of their gender expression.

Most reported avoiding school functions and extracurricular activities (71.5% and 65.7%, respectively) because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. 


27.0% of LGBTQ students were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved) in the past year because of their sexual orientation & 20.3% because of their gender expression.

59.6% of LGBTQ students were sexually harassed (e.g., unwanted touching or sexual remarks) in the past year at school.

63.5% of the students who did report an incident said that school staff did nothing in response or told the student to ignore it.


56.2% of students reported hearing homophobic remarks from their teachers or other school staff, & 63.5% reported hearing negative remarks about gender expression from teachers or other school staff. 

Were twice as likely to report that they did not plan to pursue any post-secondary education (e.g., college or trade school; 9.5% vs. 5.4%)

These statistics are very important to our particular demographics. Due to the rural nature of our region, most LGBTQ youth were not receiving the support they needed, until now. Across 1,690 square miles, La Plata County provides a home for 55,000 residents. Almost all of the youth we serve have reported oppression, discrimination, and violence. They have also reported that due to oppression and violence, many have considered dropping out of school, self harm and suicide as an answer. This is why we exist. We believe that there are greater possibilities for these youth if they receive the necessary and appropriate support. 


Want to Become a Funder?

Please contact Jennifer Stucka-Benally at 970-903-8595 or jennifer@rainbowyouthcenter.org to learn more.