ABC13 town hall examines how to protect our LGBTQ+ youth

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Action 13 'Protecting Our LGBTQ+ Youth' town hall
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ABC13's Pooja Lodhia is highlighting the barriers LGBTQ+ youth face to their health and safety, and the resources that can save their lives.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- It's hard not to fall in love with Diamond Stylz's energy and her boisterous laugh.

While she was all smiles Tuesday behind her microphone during our Action 13 town hall, the self-proclaimed warrior and podcaster readily admits life hasn't always been so easy.

"I am a Black trans woman. I transitioned when I was 13," she said. "I was kicked out when I was 13, living in a car, homeless because of my transition."

From facing torment from family members to unstable living in group homes, to experiences in sex work and danger on the streets, the Indiana native said she arrived in Houston with just $57 to her name.

Experts who spoke with reporter Pooja Lodhia Tuesday for our town hall said stories like Diamond's are common.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth often face problems accessing physical and mental health care, lack of family and peer support, and youth homelessness, all considered risk factors of suicide.

In the last year, 46% of LGBTQ+ youth said they wanted counseling from a mental health professional, but were unable to receive care, according to The Trevor Project.

Yet another 40% said they had seriously considered attempting suicide in 2020.

Mack Beggs, who made headlines by becoming the Texas state champion in girls wrestling as a transgender boy, said the problems associated with this issue are often compounded once these students reach school.

Beggs, whose story is featured in the Hulu documentary "Changing the Game," said he encountered transphobic slurs after he was denied the chance to wrestle against other high school boys.

"We can't allow this negativity to keep spreading," Beggs said.

Darrien Dyrell, a non-binary activist with The Mahogany Project, said bullying is a major obstacle for LGBTQ+ children, who are often forced to debate their own existence.

While he said more education is needed for school-aged children about LGBTQ+ history and the community's contributions to the world around them, the good news is there's help for those who aren't feeling seen and heard.

"People are really rooting for them," Dyrell said.

When Diamond couldn't qualify for safety nets like a bed in a Houston shelter, she said she was fortunate to find help from new friends in the transgender community.

Today, Diamond is executive director of Black Trans Women, Inc., a non-profit dedicated to helping Black trans women succeed; she said that wouldn't have been possible without the help of better angels in our community.

"You are looking at a person on the other side," Diamond said. "I have an amazing life."

Tuesday, we heard from experts and leaders at The Montrose Center, PFLAG Houston, Montrose Grace Place, and Rice University's Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality, who all offered resources for those in need.

You can check out the full list of resources for LGBTQ+ youth below.

The virtual town hall will stream exclusively on, ABC13's smartphone apps, and ABC13's connected TV apps on Amazon Fire TV, Roku, Apple TV, and Google TV. Just search "ABC13 Houston."

Houston LGBTQ+ Youth & Family Resources

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can also reach the LGBT Switchboard 24-Hour Helpline at 713-529-3211, Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), and The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

Hatch Youth/Hatch Jr.

As Houston's oldest, currently active, social group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, Hatch Youth is dedicated to empowering adolescents ages 13-20 to become responsible citizens and positive contributors to society. The program provides a safe, affirming social environment, health education, programming and role model/peer support. Hatch Jr. serves youth ages 7-12.

For more details:

Montrose Grace Place

Every Monday and Thursday at 6:00 p.m, Montrose Grace Place opens its doors to homeless youth ages 13-24, of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Youth night is an evening of food, mentorship, and skills building. The youth and volunteers share a seated, family-style meal, followed by an interactive lesson, craft, or other activity. Additionally, youth are able to "shop" in our closet of donated supplies, which include clothing, shoes, toiletries, bus cards, and snacks.

For more details:

PFLAG Houston

When your child or loved one comes to you and shares that they are LGBTQ, you may not know where to even begin to show them you love and support them. PFLAG is made up of moms, dads, family and friends who can help by sharing their stories and experiences.

For more details:

The Mahogany Project

The Mahogany Project seeks to reduce social isolation, stigma and acts of injustice in TQLGB+ communities of color. The organization raises awareness and advocates for the expansion of social, health and education services, and coordinates activities to improve, impact and engage with the community.

For more details, call 832-275-8871.

The Montrose Center

The Montrose Center empowers our community-primarily LGBTQ individuals and their families-to live healthier, more fulfilling lives. Because LGBTQ persons face numerous health disparities compared to the general population, the center has embraced an integrated care model with one-stop access to behavioral health and support services, adult primary care and psychiatry, and free wellness programs that empower individuals to proactively participate in their own care.

For more details: