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June 13, 2022

Celebrating 30 Years of Service to LGBTQ+ Youth in Boulder County

Boulder County, CO – This year, Boulder County Public Health (BCPH) celebrates 30 years of providing supportive services for LGBTQ+ young people in Boulder County.

BCPH has a long history of leading efforts to support the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ people in our community. In 1985, we facilitated one of the first peer-to-peer HIV and AIDS education programs in the nation.

Building on this progressive foundation, the Open and Affirming Sexual Orientation and gender identity Support (OASOS) program was established in 1992 with support from community organizations, making OASOS one of the nation’s first public health LGTBQ+ youth groups.

Since its creation, OASOS has been a leader in Boulder County, creating coalitions and improving conditions for all LGBTQ+ people. In the past 30 years, OASOS has:

  • Helped to initiate the first St. Vrain Valley Safe Schools Coalition Pride event in 2011, co-facilitating the event with the Safe Schools Coalition, and acted as a supporter for Pride events throughout the county in the years since.
  • Supported 500+ youth each year in Boulder County schools through Gender and Sexuality Alliances (GSA) which are youth-led spaces that unite LGBTQ+ and allied young people to build community and take action on issues impacting them in their schools and communities.
  • Provided support for community members and school districts serving Boulder County residents to establish inclusive practices for LGBTQ+ students.

Today, OASOS works to serve the mental, behavioral and physical health of LGBTQ+ young people in the county through weekly social support groups, community advocacy, training, and youth leadership development. One of the core initiatives of the program is an LGBTQ+ leadership development group, Youth Advocating for Change (YAC). The YAC supports members to take ownership of their futures and create the world they want to live in.

In 2022, the ACLU identified over 130 bans filed across the country that limit the way that LGBTQ+ youth are able to participate in society.

“Though Pride month is about joy and celebration, it is absolutely vital to remember that LGBTQ+ people are facing outright attacks on our human rights. Public displays of dehumanization of LGBTQ+ youth like the ones we have seen across the county puts young people at risk and we know that it leads to worse mental, behavioral and physical health outcomes,” said Dr. Jax Gonzalez, OASOS Program Coordinator. “Knowing this, the YAC came together this year not only to celebrate 30 years of OASOS but also to challenge allies to dedicate time and resources to continue our efforts to strive for equal rights and liberty.”

OASOS invites the community to join Boulder County pride celebrations, show their support and learn more about the program’s history.