Triangle Youth Alliance

The Triangle Youth Alliance (TYA) strives to help develop safety support systems for and encourages networking opportunities among gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people who attend school and/or live in Lake County, Florida. TYA volunteers have worked in association with area high schools, middle schools, and the Lake County school district to create safer climates for all students. Principals, teachers and guidance counselors, as well as students, are encouraged to get involved in this all-important anti-bullying campaign.

The TYA is an outreach project of The Triangle Connection, Inc., a nonprofit networking and social organization for GLBT adults in the Mount Dora-Eustis-Tavares area. In our anti-bullying efforts we have worked in cooperation with Be Real Inc., an Orlando-based nonprofit program which is now part of the new Zebra Coalition  - A key component of Be Real's programming has been the creation of "safe classrooms" in public middle and high schools in Orange and Seminole Counties. The rooms are staffed by volunteer teachers and counselors who pledge to be nonjudgmental when a young person needs to talk about issues ranging from bullying to gender identity.  Stickers or magnetic signs are placed on a window or outside an educator's door to identify the teacher as a "safe" participant. 

For three years, the TYA has worked to establish similar programs for Lake County schools, but more members of the public (students, parents, teachers, counselors and concerned citizens) need to stand up in order to persuade the school system to act.  Another component of our efforts has been to encourage students to create GSAs or Gay-Straight Alliances on their campuses, which are now mandated by federal law (if a group of students wishes to form one). Helping to structure these alliances is a key component of the work of Equality Florida as well as the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national organization founded in the 1990's.  

Many schools in Orange and Seminole Counties already have such groups, but efforts are just beginning to get them up and running in Lake County schools. Interested students should contact us or Michael Farmer, network coordinator for Equality Florida: 407-462-9692;
We also have been working with Equality Florida to strengthen the Lake County Schools’ anti-bullying policy to specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected categories. Despite assurances in 2010 by school-system administrators that these categories would be added to their policy, as of this writing no official action has been taken.
In addition to issues of safety in the schools, The Triangle Youth Alliance wishes to serve as a conduit for youth participants to plan their own alcohol-and drug-free social and networking programs. Let us know how we can be of assistance.  Persons interested in participating in or assisting with any youth-related project should drop an email to:

Key Facts About Bullying

National statistics about the effects of bullying on GLBTQ students are startling. 
  • One-third of all teen suicides and one-half of all male youth suicides are from the GLBTQ community, according to a study by the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health.  
  • Other studies have shown that gay teens are twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to attempt suicide.  
  • What's more, 30 percent of gay and bisexual adolescent males attempt suicide at least once.
  • Every bit as disturbing, 80 percent of those harassed about their sexual orientation identify as heterosexual, and heterosexual youths are five times as likely to attempt suicide if they are harassed because someone believes they are gay.  
  • About 160,000 young people skip school out of fear of being harassed each day, and teenage students (gay and straight) overwhelmingly agree that the worst kind of harassment in school is being called "gay" or a derogatory term for it.
Here's one more particularly frightful statistic:  
  • A total of 27 percent of gay youth say they have been physically hurt by another student.  Many more equally appalling statistics on the dangers of bullying, including research sources, can be found on the website
 Fortunately, more and more young LGBTQ people are realizing that life does get better as the massive international video campaign has demonstrated:  But everyone – including heterosexual adults and young people – need to become involved and take to heart the campaign’s pledge: 
“Everyone deserves to be respected for who they are. I pledge to spread this message to my friends, family and neighbors. I'll speak up against hate and intolerance whenever I see it, at school and at work. I'll provide hope for lesbian, gay, bi, trans and other bullied teens by letting them know that  ‘It Gets Better.’”

Please note that the TYA does not provide crisis intervention or counseling at this time, but encourages GLBTQ persons in dangerous situations to call the Crisis Helpline of The Zebra Coalition at 877-90-ZEBRA.



Resources for Young People

Zebra House
Zebra Coalition is a Central Florida coalition of LGBTQ-activist groups that has recently opened a shelter for LGBTQ youth in downtown Orlando. The Zebra House is a 24/7 safe place for LGBTQ young people who may have been kicked out of their homes, or just may be dealing with circumstances out of their control.

Orlando Youth Alliance 
(407) 244-1222 (24/7 message line) 
The Orlando Youth Alliance (OYA) provides counseling as well as social and networking opportunities for young LGBTQ young people throughout Central Florida. It offers peer-based education, support, and referral services for GLBTQ youth ages 13 to 20. The OYA can provide someone who will listen to you, help in dealing with parents who don’t understand your sexuality, mediation at school and a safe place to meet friends. 
Contact Michael Slaymaker, president

Parents and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG)
407-236-9177 (helpline)

Equality Florida’s Gay Straight Alliance Network
Helps students organize gay/straight student alliances on their campuses. 
Michael Farmer, Network Coordinator

The Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network 
Nationwide G/L/S Education Network with strong anti-bullying programs.