30% suicide attempt rate among youth who describe their orientation as gay or lesbian, 31% suicide attempt rate among youth labeled “transgender.”
YES Institute began as a personal project in 1995 led by Martha Fugate and Connie Barden. Known as Project YES, the two began meeting with local community leaders and educators to understand what could be done to keep gay and lesbian youth from wanting to kill or harm themselves. In these meetings, they discovered two critical reasons why well-intentioned professionals were not taking effective actions: 1. Many community leaders and educators lacked education about gender and orientation, and 2. they were not comfortable talking about gay youth.
So Connie Barden and Martha Fugate made it their mission and by extension, YES Institute’s mission to change those limitations by providing powerful communication and education to empower community leaders to serve and protect all youth. Through our cutting-edge communication training and education initiatives, YES Institute works with leaders across a wide variety of fields: from hospitals to mental health facilities, in schools, foster care agencies, the justice system, and more, YES Institute helps to create a world where no one will be harmed or harm themselves because of their gender or orientation.
For the past 22 years, this call to action has propelled and sustained the work of the staff, board, volunteers and financial supporters of YES Institute. As a result, lives have been saved, families have been reunited and young people are safer in environments that welcome and celebrate them. In 2016 alone, we served over 7,000 people and provided training to leaders who have the power to impact the lives of young people throughout the community.