Like Premiere Party itself, CHRIS Kids’ services for LGBT youth have changed through the years. The LGBT “Rainbow Program” is now part of the bigger TransitionZ program, which helps youth make the transition to living independently through housing, counseling and other support.
“We serve many more LGBT kids through housing now because of the expansion,” Colbenson says.
Not all of those LGBT young people want to self-identify as such. CHRIS Kids currently serves about 300 LGBT people and their families, about 15-20 percent of the nonprofit’s total population. Some 23 of the 92 youth currently living in CHRIS Kids’ residential programs are LGBT, though Colbenson notes there may be others who are not “comfortable identifying.” Funds raised from Premiere Party are restricted to the agency’s LGBT Fund, she says.
“All funds raised will be used to help LGBT folks — those who are homeless, those who are living in families that are struggling with their orientation or gender identity, those who are without family support systems, those who need counseling, those who are bullied and to help provide training to end bullying and discrimination against LGBT folks,” Colbenson says.