Nashville’s Oasis Center was established in 1969 to service at-risk youth in our community. In 2011, the Oasis Center founded “Just Us,” which offers intentional programming and services specifically for LGBT+ youth to address issues particular to youth in our community.
The Director of Just Us, Pamela Sheffer, says that they offer five program platforms of services to specific segments of youth in our community, and each of these have grown in recent years to reach more and more at-risk youth:
· Meetings and services for all LGBT+ high school students
· Services for trans youth
· Group therapy sessions with a culturally connected therapist
· A Leadership team
· Services for young men of color
In addition to direct-to-youth programs and services, Just Us is continually working collaboratively with the Tennessee Department of Education, the TN Department of Children’s Services, and juvenile court system on leadership and policy changes that impact LGBT+ youth. They are also furthering cultural changes in their organizations, so that educators, social workers, and police officers and judges can recognize issues particular to LGBT+ youth, and address those issues accordingly. For example, truancy courts need to recognize that if an LGBT+ child that skips school because they feel unsafe there, traditional corrective action may not be effective at getting them to attend school regularly. And those same children may not be able to articulate their reasons, so education and court system personnel need cultural competency training to recognize signs indicating the child’s circumstances. In doing so, Just Us strives for equity in outcomes rather than equality in treatment of children with whom these professionals interact.
The Oasis Center cherishes their volunteers, and they do require a long-term commitment to ensure consistency for their youth. They meet every Tuesday at 4:00. If you have the time, please click here: https://www.oasiscenter.org/#help