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SrMomentHATCH teens start their final year of high school.

The academic year has begun again, and another vibrant group of HATCH teens has started senior year in high schools across the Houston area. Pay attention: These 12th graders, who are all active in the Houston support group for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth ages 13-20, represent some of the best and the brightest in our community. This year’s big men and women on campus are (clockwise from lower left) Madison (in purple shirt), Nick, Laura, Jacob, Christopher, Pam, Ashley, Joshua, Evan, and Seth. (Because young people, even those who have reached age 18, are out to varying degrees at home and at school, OutSmart consents at the request of HATCH to publish first names only.)

HATCH—originally an acronym for Houston Area Teen Coalition for Homosexuals, the letters are now a stand-alone moniker—celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. The HATCH youngsters, with trained, adult supervision, meet at least a couple of times a week for chat, fun, and encouragement. The group, which is a program of Montrose Counseling Center, also hosts other regular activities, including movie nights and educational programs. On the agenda this month: a poetry slam for HATCH writers and participation in the International Coastal Cleanup on September 15. Deb Murphy, the youth services worker with HATCH, and several grown-up volunteers also keep track of college scholarship opportunities and help the young people with their applications. In this way, HATCH prepares the next generations of queer youth for life beyond high school.

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