In 1992, a group of local individuals became alarmed by the statistics documenting high suicide rates among gay and lesbian teens. This concern led to the establishment of the organization known as ALSO (Advocacy, Leadership, Support, and Outreach) Youth.
Since then, this nonprofit organization has been working to promote the health, safety, and personal growth of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual, and allied youth (LGBTQ+) community in Manatee and Sarasota Counties.
They also work to bring awareness to sexual minority youth issues, boost self-esteem, and encourage a healthy dialogue. Overall, their mission is to empower the LGBTQ+ community and their allies by creating an inclusive community.
Safe Space Drop-Ins
ALSO Youth provides a safe space for LGBTQ+ youth and teens with drop-in hours at both their Sarasota and Bradenton locations. Any youth between the ages of 13 and 24 are welcome to hang out with other youth and participate in educational and social events, including the ALSO Youth Book Club. The Manatee County center is located at 501 5th St. E. Bradenton and they’re open the first and third Thursday of every month from 4 pm to 7 pm and on the second and fourth Saturday from 12 pm to 3 pm.
They’re currently taking all necessary precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID, including wearing masks and maintaining social distancing. Visit their site to learn more about their youth centers.
ALSO believes in the power of education to impact lives. They offer scholarships for LGBTQ+ youth, provide free Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) clubs in both Manatee and Sarasota County schools, and offer community training covering topics like sensitivity to LGBTQ+ issues, inclusion, how to be an ally, and more. The organization also provides inclusivity training for school staff and teaches anti-bullying classes.
Throughout the year, ALSO visits middle and high schools to introduce their organization, connect with students and staff, and offer their services. Students are also often referred to ALSO by school guidance counselors.
UPDATE: Due to the uptick in COVID-19 cases, Manatee Pride has been postponed. The new date is March 22, 2022. To learn more and keep up with any additional updates, you can follow Manatee Pride on Facebook.
One of ALSO’s largest fundraisers, the Manatee Pride Festival, is coming up this month. This 7th annual event is scheduled for
Saturday, September 18th from noon to 5 pm. It will be held on the beautiful Bradenton Riverwalk and will feature live entertainment, great food, beer and other refreshments, health checks, and more.
All proceeds will go directly to ALSO Youth. To learn more or get involved, contact organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Support ALSO
ALSO is currently working on picking back up after scaling things back during the COVID-19 pandemic. They’re always looking for volunteers who want to get involved, and for donors who would like to make a financial contribution. Those interested in participating in some of their events can check out the youth calendar, which is updated each month. You can also follow them on Facebook so you don’t miss out on the latest news and announcements.