Deb Murphy, Youth Services Specialist for HATCH, Houston’s original group for LGBT youth, was honored last month as Montrose Counseling Center’s Employee of the Year for 2010.
HATCH is a program of the Montrose Counseling Center. MCC program coordinators choose the “Employee of the Month” each month, and the employees themselves then choose the “Employee of the Year” from those 11 candidates.
“This is an especially important honor to me, because it’s decided by the people who work with me every day,” Murphy said.
Murphy, who has guided HATCH since 2001, believes she was tapped for the honor as a result of the increased visibility of HATCH in the media following the September 2010 suicide of 13-year-old Cy-Fair School District student Asher Brown. Brown’s death was one among several gay teen suicides in the U.S. that were attributed to the result of bullying by peers.
“There was a huge increase for
faculty and staff in-service trainings,” Murphy said.
In the weeks following the suicides, Murphy conducted more than 30 in-service trainings at area schools, residential treatment facilities, churches, a child placement agency, and “any organization that serves children,” Murphy said.
“These agencies realize that there are indeed gay children in their systems and they must understand the issues unique to this population.”
This year’s plans for HATCH include “all of our usual activities, plus an increased emphasis to build resiliency so the kids don’t suffer so much from bullying,” Murphy said. “I want to give them a tool kit so they can take care of themselves in a non-violent way.”
Plans are currently under way for a Galveston-based “clone” of HATCH, bringing Murphy one step closer to her goal of making “every school safe for every kid, every day.”
HATCH, founded in 1987, meets Sunday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings at MCC (401 Branard St.). As many as 30 LGBT youth, ages 13–20, participate in group discussions, play video and board games, view LGBT-related DVDs, and more.
One of the reasons HATCH is so successful, Murphy said, is because “every facet of our community supports it so very well. It’s not about the money, it’s about kids—understanding that kids are not ‘less than’ in Houston’s gay community.
“Although, we need to keep those checks coming in!” Murphy quipped. hatchyouth.org. —Nancy Ford