A Word From The Center

Celebrating South Bay Youth Center’s 5th Anniversary

By Gus Hernandez

Youth across San Diego’s South County who are looking for a safe space to receive support and resources in an LGBTQ-affirming environment have a safe haven at the South Bay Youth Center.

SBYC was founded in 2019 by The San Diego LGBT Community Center as part of The Center’s Youth Services program, following the incredible success of the Hillcrest Youth Center founded in 2000. As SBYC celebrates its 5th anniversary, this vital community resource continues to transform the lives of LGBTQ+ youth and their families. 

Located in Chula Vista, we have Spanish-speaking bilingual staff at SBYC to help meet the needs of the community, including parents, guardians, and youth service providers. 

Nurturing Authenticity

SBYC was established with a clear purpose: to create a safe, welcoming, and affirming space for LGBTQ+ and nonbinary youth, including youth living with HIV. In a world where acceptance can be elusive, SBYC stands as a sanctuary—a place where young individuals can be their authentic selves without fear of judgment or discrimination.

Our staff at SBYC are here for our youth, whether it’s to celebrate their birthday or graduation, or to help them with changing their name or gender marker, updating their pronouns, securing housing or counseling, or celebrating other milestones in their lives. Our space has a game room, a computer lab, an art room, and even a community closet where youth can try on clothes that fit their gender identity or gender expression.

In the lives of our LGBTQ+ youth, we celebrate every victory, every milestone, and every new discovery because these youth might not be getting support at home or within their other communities. 

Holistic Support

At SBYC, it’s not just about providing a physical space; it’s about holistic support. SBYC recognizes that LGBTQ+ youth face unique challenges, from mental health concerns to navigating their identities. Here, youth find a lifeline—a community that understands their struggles and celebrates their triumphs.

Social Meetups

SBYC hosts social meetups tailored to different age groups. Whether you’re 10-13, 14-18, or 18-24, there’s a dedicated day for you. These gatherings foster connections, friendships, and a sense of belonging. From game nights to heartfelt conversations, the bonds formed here are invaluable.

Community Days

Parents and youth service providers play a crucial role in supporting LGBTQ+ youth. That’s why SBYC offers community days—a chance for parents, educators, guardians, and caregivers to learn about the services that are provided at SBYC. These sessions break down barriers, dispel myths, and empower families to be allies.

A Safe Space for Parents, Too

Last month, SBYC in partnership with Rainbow Spaces and Our Safe Place co-hosted a support circle for guardians and youth at SBYC in the wake of the death of Next Benedict, a nonbinary teenager who died after being attacked at a school in Oklahoma. We created safe space for guardians and parents to discuss their feelings about anti-LGBTQ rhetoric and violence. Youth were given their own separate space to process their feelings. We created an environment for folks to learn skills to support their LGBTQ+ students in these difficult times and helped them to understand the power of processing their emotions.

HIV Testing Day

Health and wellbeing are paramount to living full and affirming lives. On the first Thursday of every month, SBYC hosts a free HIV testing day. By providing accessible testing, education, and resources, SBYC contributes to a healthier community. It’s a proactive step toward preventing new infections and promoting awareness.

The 5th Anniversary Celebration – April 6, 2024

On Saturday, April 6th, the San Diego LGBT Community Center invites everyone to join the South Bay Youth Center 5th Anniversary celebration! Join us at SBYC at 1180 Third Ave. in Chula Vista, from 10 am to 12 pm, to celebrate this milestone and honor the folks who laid the foundation for this remarkable space. Their dedication and vision have created a safe space where LGBTQ+ youth can thrive. Visit https://bit.ly/sbyc-5-years to RSVP. 

Reaffirming Our Commitment

LGBTQ+ youth deserve unwavering support, and SBYC remains steadfast in its mission. The San Diego LGBT Community Center continues to prioritize resources, care, and empowerment to LGBTQ+ youth at SBYC. Together, we can build a brighter future—one where acceptance and love prevail.

The journey of the South Bay Youth Center is a testament to resilience, compassion, and community. As it enters its 5th year, let’s celebrate the victories and look ahead with hope, because every LGBTQ+ youth who walks through our doors carries the promise of a better tomorrow.

Follow SBYC on Social Media

You can find SBYC on social media on Facebook at SBYCSD and @southbayyouthcenter on Instagram. Follow us to stay updated on all the activities and special events happening at SBYC and to learn about more opportunities to support our work!