By Josh Inocéncio
On December 9, Out for Education, which recently won Best Philanthropic Organization at OutSmart’s Gayest & Greatest awards event, is throwing a fashion show at Studio A Salon to raise awareness and college scholarship funds for LGBT students in Texas. Out for Education, formerly known as the PFLAG/HATCH Youth Foundation, has provided scholarships for local LGBT youth over the last 18 years. The upcoming event, Couture for a Cause, will celebrate that success as well as benefit prospective college students.
“Many people don’t realize that this charity exists, or what it does,” says Ben Pickell, one of the Couture for a Cause event chairs. “This is an opportunity, on a very large scale, to get people to understand what this organization is about, and hopefully get more people involved with this kind of charity.”
By organizing the December fashion show, Out for Education is hoping to increase visibility in the community and educate attendees about why scholarships for LGBT students are necessary.
“Out for Education provides scholarships for LGBT youth. Some are kicked out of their homes or have parents who aren’t supportive,” says Pickell. “Some of the students’ stories will make you bawl.”
Every April, Pickell hears emotional stories from LGBT students who need scholarship money for college. For example, a gay student from Anahuac, Texas, who received funds via Out for Education, lacked support not only from his small-town community, but from parents who did not even attend his award ceremony.
“He’s really a brilliant kid, and he wants to go to school to be a rocket scientist,” says Pickell.
The organization, which is one of the largest funders of LGBT scholarships in the nation, has provided 350 scholarships for students all over Texas. While recipients most frequently attend community colleges and universities in Texas, some have been accepted at schools all over the United States.
The event is also bringing popular fashion names to Houston. According to Out for Education’s website, the event will feature former Project Runway contestant Viktor Luna and Project Runway: All Star winner Mondo Guerra. Tickets for the event range from $40 to $250, and there are also sponsorship opportunities starting at $300. Everyone who attends will also have access to food and an open bar. By combining fashion and fundraising, the event’s organizers hope to garner a sizable audience.
“We need to be supporting our youth,” says Pickell. “These kids are our future.”
What: Out for Education’s Couture for a Cause
When: December 9, 7–10 p.m.
Where: Studio A Salon, 2411 Sunset Blvd.
Josh Inocéncio is a playwright and freelance writer. A Houston-area native, he earned a master’s degree in theater studies at Florida State University and produced his first play, Purple Eyes, before returning to Texas last year.