Today’s post is from Rachel Greene-Wilber of the Youth Trends team here at BGCA.
As Boys & Girls Clubs, we strive to promote inclusive environments. This week, we are highlighting how establishing community partnerships can advance that goal and improve the experience of our Club members.
The Komatke Boys & Girls Club, located in the Komatke community of the Gila River Indian Community, recently partnered with PFLAG. PFLAG is an organization committed to advancing equality for the LGBTQ community through support, education and advocacy.
The Club staff sat down with representatives from the Native PFLAG chapter, as well as members of HOPE (Helping O’odham Pursue Equality) to share their vision for the youth of the Gila River community. Together, the Komatke Club staff, PFLAG and HOPE learned that they share a common mission: to promote the health and well-being of LGBTQ individuals, to educate themselves and those they serve and to advocate for change.
The organizations also collaborated to create a training for Club staff to ensure that they are developing safe spaces for Native Club youth. The training included discussions on terminology, inclusive language, resources for youth and families, as well as best practices. These resources can be found at the Komatke Club facility, as well as online at www.nativepflag.org.
The partnership between the Komatke Club and the Native PFLAG chapter serves as an excellent example of how Club staff can collaborate with local organizations to improve the Club experience for our members!
Every Club has different needs, and there are a variety of ways that community partnerships can serve our Club members’ unique interests!
As Club leaders, we should remember to:
1. Be receptive
Native PFLAG initiated contact with the Komatke Club because a Club member had reached out to PFLAG for guidance and support after dealing with issues at school related to the member’s identity. Knowing that the Boys and Girls Club is a space the Club member frequents, PFLAG set up a meeting to ensure the Komtake facility presented a safe space for youth regardless of their identity or orientation.
As a Club leader, you may have encountered a similar situation. It’s important to be open and receptive when addressing concerns of Club members and establishing community partnerships! Our Clubs are important parts of our members’ lives, so we want to make sure our members feel totally comfortable in our facilities.
2. Be proactive
You don’t have to wait for a Club member to initiate contact with a potential community partner! If you think there are members in your Club that could use additional support–for their identity, orientation or any other reason–be proactive in finding resources for them. States often have resources and organizations that serve children and teens listed on their Department of Public Health websites, and there are also countless resources available on BGCA.net.
3. Cultivate safe spaces
Remember to always listen to your Club members’ concerns. Use inclusive language, and make sure that all members feel like they have a voice in your Club. For more information on cultivating safe spaces, check out this article! For additional resources for Native Clubs, take a look at this resource! You can also find all of our Club Experience Blog posts on LGBTQ youth here.
How have you initiated community partnerships at your Club? We’d love to hear from you! Comment below or email ClubXBlog@bgca.org to share.