A privately-funded group running on the vision of Everett’s Kayla Mangan will open their doors next Tuesday, June 1, as the first LGBTQ+ Youth Space and Resource Center in the former Pope John High School.
Dom Washington told the Independent they plan to have a soft opening this summer with hours to be determined, but that a full slate of programming and hours will start in the fall. The space will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting on June 1 following the Pride Month flag raising at City Hall.
Washington said the space comes from the vision of long-time resident Kayla Mangan, who wanted to create a space where young people could feel safe and get resources they need. That’s something that was not available for Kayla growing up in Everett, Washington said.
“This was Kayla’s idea and Kayla is a long-time resident of Everett,” said Washington. “Kayla grew up in the city and didn’t see a lot of queer representation. That happens a lot to queer folk and so they leave their home and go to larger cities. That just tends to keep the problem going as those who could stand up end up leaving. Kayla wanted to contrast that and start this youth space and resources center – which is the first in Everett…It will be a place where queer youth can come and see people who share their stories, that is open and welcoming and staffed by people who care about them deeply.”
Working with the City and Mayor Carlo DeMaria, Kayla and Washington were able to identify a location in the old Pope John High School for the space.
“A few months ago, I received a request from a young Everett resident who wanted a meeting addressing the needs of our LGBTQ+ youth,” he said. “They explained that growing up gay and struggling with the fear that it brings internally was something they wanted to change, and they wanted to begin in Everett. I’m proud to announce the formation of Everett’s first LGBTQ+ Youth and Resource Center. This center will be opening on June 1st at Pope John High School. Please join me on June 1st for our Annual LGBTQ+ flag raising, followed by a ribbon-cutting of the new space. I look forward to continuing to ensure that Everett is a welcoming and safe place for all.”
Washington said it is completely independent, though, and is funded by Rebel Cause Inc., who is the fiscal sponsor. Other donors are involved, and the City has also contributed a seed grant and the space.
Washington said the space will be in-person and virtual. While the hours will be curtailed during the summer months in person, there will be a robust program rolled out in the fall. Over the next two weeks, they will be launching the virtual website for the space, for those who wish to access the resource without coming to the location.
Washington said her background is in community organizing, and she said the center’s program will start with getting active in the community. They are already working with Everett Community Growers, and look to also partner with other school clubs.
“Getting involved in the community is where we’ll start, but we have plans for other opportunities too,” said Washington. “We want to do panels, group meetings and sexual health forums as well.”
However, that programming in the fall will be something they want to match the needs of those in the community that will seek them out.
“The last thing we want to do is introduce things that people don’t want or don’t need,” Washington said. “We want the community involved.”
Right now, Kayla and Washington will staff the space, but they hope to take on volunteers and maybe hire a youth intern in time. The space will be meant for young people ages 13-17, but the space will also introduce hours after 6 p.m. for all ages to access their resources