LYRIC’s mission

LYRIC’s mission is to build community and inspire positive social change through education enhancement, career trainings, health promotion, and leadership development with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQQ) youth, their families, and allies of all races, classes, genders, and abilities.

LYRIC’s Vision

LYRIC’s vision is a diverse society where LGBTQQ youth are embraced for who they are and encouraged to be who they want to be. By working towards social justice and supporting young leaders, their families and allies, LYRIC is building a world that honors, respects and appreciates LGBTQQ youth and their contributions.

LYRIC’s Timeline

  • 1988 – LYRIC founded and holds its first LYRIC Dance for Queer Youth
  • 1990 – First office set up at Operation Concern
  • 1991 – LYRIC wins city-wide support to launch urgently needed educational programs focused on sexuality/gender
  • 1993 – With the aid of the city and a coalition of adult allies, LYRIC purchases house in the Castro on 127 Collingwood Street. LYRIC also launches a national peer youth hotline and its first internship program
  • 1995 – LYRIC becomes an independent nonprofit
  • 1996 – LYRIC launches the first lobby day in Sacramento advocating for LGBTQQ youth protections in public schools
  • 1997 – LYRIC co-founds Dimensions, a twice-weekly clinic specifically for LGBTQQ youth
  • 2001 – LYRIC is recognized by Community Network for Youth Development for its effective youth development model
  • 2006 – LYRIC helps found the Community Partnership for LGBTQQ Youth
  • 2010 – LYRIC receives the CA Adolescent Health Janet Shalwitz Leadership Award
  • 2011 – LYRIC receives Bank of America’s Neighborhood Builder Award as part of its nationally acclaimed Neighborhood Excellence Initiative

The whole story…

As one of the first and largest LGBTQQ youth centers in the country, founded in 1988, LYRIC has a long history of accomplishments, locally, regionally and nationally. LYRIC has made a significant impact on the landscape of services and supports that have been developed for LGBTQQ youth over the past two decades. LYRIC’s programming has been recognized as a model for youth development.  The Youth Development Program Outcomes Project—a 2001 study and assessment of SF youth providers organized by the Community Network for Youth Development (CNYD)—gave LYRIC one of the highest scores for youth development outcomes and levels of youth satisfaction.  This represented an important recognition by experts in the field of youth development that LYRIC’s founding peer-based approach to working with LGBTQQ youth is a key to success in working with youth.

LYRIC emerged from the shared vision of Donna Keiko Ozawa and Beth Kivel, who started an ad-hoc Committee for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth.  Ruth Hughes from Center for Special Problems offered meeting space for the committee and encouraged the committee’s idea for their first event – a dance held in October 1988 at the Women’s Building.  40 youth attended the dance and at least 20 adults were there to support a safe and fun event for LGBTQQ youth.  Building on the momentum of the dance, a community meeting was held in January 1989 and, within six months, the committee had a name (LYRIC) and a collective structure.  Afterward, Donna and Beth partnered with adult advocates to define the organization’s goals, obtain resources, and start programming and advocacy.  Margaret Brodkin and Greg Day from Coleman Advocates for Youth, Judith Stevenson from Operation Concern, John Wilhite, Kristin Bachler, and Eric Ciasullo were some of the early adult champions of LYRIC.  These leaders, along with other interested members of the committee contributed time and resources to help give shape to Donna and Beth’s vision.  In 1990, the Mission Statement was developed.  In 1991, LYRIC achieved the first of many local policy wins when LGBTQQ youth advocated for and won financial support from the City of San Francisco for urgently needed youth development programs that challenge homophobia and transphobia and educate about sexuality and gender.  A resolution was signed by Mayor Frank Jordan, with support from Supervisor Roberta Achtenberg, to prioritize LGBTQQ youth needs including the siting of a LGBTQQ youth center in the Castro.

In 1991, LYRIC transitioned from a collective to a service provider, with funding from the Mayor’s Office of Community Development, the San Francisco Department of Public Health AIDS Office, and the San Francisco Foundation.  This funding allowed for the development of services to meet the needs identified by youth, which focused on HIV prevention and young women’s programming.  While limited office space was available at Operation Concern, many activities were held in other locations because of a lack of dedicated space.  In 1992, LYRIC moved to the Women’s Building until, in 1993, LYRIC completed the purchase of a building to house its services at 127 Collingwood Street in the Castro.  At that time, the After School Program (now the LYRIC Youth Space) and the Youth Talkline were developed.

In the next few years, LYRIC hired an Executive Director, obtained its own nonprofit status, and formed the Board of Directors.  It also expanded funding with major support from the United Way of the Bay Area.  LYRIC also built on its policy successes, by launching the first lobby day devoted to LGBTQQ youth protections in public schools in 1996.  More than 300 LGBTQQ youth and allies with the LIFE Lobby and the Gay-Straight Alliance Network participated in the lobby day.  Momentum was built over several years until AB537, sponsored by Assembly Member Sheila Kuehl, was passed in 2000 to protect students and staff against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity, actual or perceived.

In the past decade, LYRIC refined our model of youth development and expanded collaborations to better serve LGBTQQ youth.  One of these collaborations is the Community Partnership for LGBTQQ Youth: This group has been pivotal in coordinating efforts in response to City budget cuts impacting LGBTQQ youth.  Members are LYRIC, API Wellness, Bay Area Young Positives, Dimensions Clinic (Castro Mission Health Clinic), Larkin Street Youth Services, San Francisco LGBT Center, and San Francisco Department of Recreation and Parks (Eureka Valley Recreation Center).  The other major collaborative is the Dimensions Clinic Collaboration: Dimensions is a twice weekly clinic, co-founded by LYRIC in 1997, held at a public health center, which was created specifically to meet the medical and psycho-social service needs of LGBTQQ youth.