It was a special morning as community allies 800 strong gathered at The Antlers on Oct. 3 to say to LGBTQ+ youths, “I Belong. You Belong. We All Belong.”

They were there from across the community — staff and students from area college campuses, from school districts, from businesses and nonprofits, from the arts community, the gay community, elected officials and the parents of the young people at Inside Out Youth Services.

They were there to raise $100,000 for the center, where young people are welcome, safe, understood, and where everyone is free to “choose your pronouns”: she/her/hers, he/him they/them.

Setting the tone was the Out Loud Colorado Springs Men’s Chorus with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “This is Me” and “We Are Family.”

Featured speaker and advocate Roz Gould Keith (she/her) of Stand With Trans told attendees the word “transgender” had been new to her. Then her son came out.

He had family support, “all the emotional support in the world” but then they were called to his school. He was in the restroom, pulled down his pants and showed how he had brutally cut himself. No matter that support, this could happen, they learned.

She cautioned attendees to always just “love your child.” And “saying no to a trans child is a slap in the face.”

Pikes Peak Community College President Lance Bolton (he/him) said there is “no bigotry of any form” accepted on area campuses.

Providing future-thinking opportunities for all students, he focused on collaboration between PPCC, UCCS, CC and the AFA, in innovative projects such as Quad Innovation Partnership “to elevate, educate and incubate innovators.”

Toward that end, Inside Out Youth Services Executive Director Jessie Pocock said, “We build connectiveness with adults. We need allies facing the future.” And allies were filling the hotel ballroom that morning, she pointed out.

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