“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making me feel welcomed, special, loved and cared for. I am so glad to have had the experiences I had, and I still hold those memories close to my heart.”
former youth participant
Youth Outlook celebrates, empowers, advocates for, and provides services to meet the ever-evolving needs of LGBTQ+ youth and their families, friends, and communities.
Youth Outlook is Illinois’ first social service agency solely dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth. We work in 5 counties in the western suburbs of Chicago, offering drop-in centers for youth, parent support, and community education.
Drop-in Centersmeet weekly and are a social setting for youth to meet other LGBTQ+ young people and talk about a variety of topics that really matter to them. Youth Outlook provides dedicated programming related to safer sex, healthy relationships, and HIV/AIDS prevention and education. Our largest and fastest-growing group is Transcend, a supportive and affirming space for trans and non-binary youth.
Our Thrive Drop-in Center for parents and caregivers who are actively parenting LGBTQ+ teens provides an informal and confidential space for families and supportive adult allies to share their stories, find commonalities, and get their questions answered.
Community Education initiatives inform professionals on needs specific to the LGBTQ+ community, current trends in working with LGBTQ+ youth, and how to create LGBTQ+ inclusive environments.
Youth Outlook began in 1996 when a group of community members in DuPage County met to discuss their concerns over the lack of area resources for LGBTQ+ youth. Two years later, Youth Outlook was up and running with our first drop-in center, our first grant, and our first executive director. Since that time, Youth Outlook (formerly Questioning Youth Center) has been committed to providing a safe, supportive, and respectful environment for adolescents, whether they identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ+). Youth who identify as allies are welcome in all of our programs and settings. We celebrated our tenth anniversary in 2008, and we are happy to report that we’ve served more than 1,800 youth in that time; resilient young people that we have been proud to know.
Youth Outlook has expanded dramatically since then, now offering six drop-in centers in five counties, as well as a youth leadership program, a group for transgender youth, off-site recreational activities, and mobile programming. We have ten staff members and more than 70 volunteers active each month. We work with interns from Aurora University, Northern Illinois University, University of Illinois–Chicago, and Indiana University.
In 2002, in recognition of our ongoing work, Youth Outlook received an award for Excellence in Service to LGBT Youth from the Human Rights Campaign Illinois Chapter.