College’s Pride committee partners with Montrose Center on backpack fundraiser.
By Josh Inocéncio
In an era when LGBT teenagers are coming out at younger ages to greater acceptance, Houston is still seeing too many queer kids kicked out of their homes and onto the streets.
To combat this, the Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) Pride committee is partnering with The Montrose Center to raise money to distribute backpacks that contain STI prevention information, food, and toiletries.
“I had an idea last November for a project that would benefit LGBTQ youth at a time in their lives when they’re at their most vulnerable,” said BCM Pride’s Logan DeBord, a second-year medical student. “A disproportionate amount of homeless young adults on the street identify as [LGBTQ], and they’re often in their situation directly because of a lack of family support.
“After contacting some of the staff at the Montrose Center, I learned about their ‘Project Remix’ kits, and decided that the most effective way to help would be to incorporate items that I had been thinking about into their existing kits (their greatest need was in fact durable, water-resistant backpacks to bring everything together),” DeBord added.
To raise the funds, DeBord and the BCM Pride committee are utilizing a GoFundMe page where people can donate through June. BCM Pride has set a goal of $500, but committee member Cody Miller said he hopes people will continue to donate after it’s been met.
“On any given night, dozens of LGBT youth are on the streets of Houston,” said Miller, who’s also a second-year medical student. “Five hundred dollars or so lets us provide supplies to about 17 kids, but there are hundreds of homeless LGBT youth in Houston that need help.”
But DeBord and the BCM Pride committee are not just providing the bare necessities for Houston’s LGBT homeless youth. Included in the backpacks are also young adult novels with LGBT protagonists as well as letters from BCM students.
“This idea to me was all about visibility,” DeBord said. “LGBTQ youth across the world suffer from a lack of visibility of characters like themselves in virtually every aspect of life—learning about history, reading literature, indulging in pop culture, and tuning in to the daily news cycle.
One of the novels included in the backpacks is Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Saenz.
“Its main characters are two Hispanic teenagers who begin to sense that their friendship may be even deeper and more meaningful than it appears on the outside,” DeBord said. “It’s all about learning how to be confident in the face of numerous challenges and misunderstanding from those who surround you, and it seemed like the perfect choice for our target population.”
BCM Pride committee members also hope the letters from medical students will provide encouragement to homeless LGBTQ youth.
“My hope is that they will make the connection that their present situation can never, ever doom them to a path that is anything less than their best possible future,” DeBord said. “All of the medical students involved in this project have undoubtedly overcome trials and tribulations in our lives (some or all of us because of the way we identify), but nevertheless here we are.”
To donate to BCM Pride’s backpack initiative, go here.