Region’s LGBT youth find new ‘home’ Sunday with opening of Charlotte center

New Time Out Youth Center has a grand opening Sunday
New Time Out Youth Center has a grand opening Sunday

The region’s first permanent support center for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths opens on Monroe Road on Sunday in east Charlotte.

The grand opening of the Time Out Youth Center comes just six months into a 5-year capital campaign that has so far raised $2.25 million toward a $3.4 million goal. The ribbon cutting, at 3800 Monroe Road, is open to the public and starts at 2 p.m.

Large donors to the project have included the Gambrell Family Foundation, the Howard R. Levine Foundation and Myers Park Baptist Church.

Community leaders say the center marks a turning point for the region’s LGBT youths, because they now have a “home” not only for programming, but for an emergency shelter. Time Out Youth plans to open a 10-bed shelter behind the center in 2020, focusing on LGBT youths kicked out by their families.

The nonprofit is one of the state’s oldest and largest support agencies for LGBT youths, offering services youths who face discrimination at school and rejection at home. It opened 26 years ago, but spent much of that time bouncing from place to place due to the lack of a permanent site. Among the programs offered are free counseling and job support. Participation is limited to LGBT youths from ages 11 to 20 years.

Visits to Time Out Youth’s previous home doubled in 2016, due largely to the community turmoil associated with the anti-LGBT law House Bill 2. That law banned North Carolina cities from adopting civil rights laws to protect LGBT people, including the right for transgender youths to use the restroom of their gender identity.

An open house will follow the grand opening, from 2:30-5 p.m. Sunday.