Empowering LGBTQ Youth - Lambda Youth Network
The North Carolina Lambda Youth Network (abbreviated NCLYN) was established in Downtown Durham in July of 1996 by Duke alum Hez Norton. Norton founded the NCLYN because many queer young people, who felt they had no support network, were leaving North Carolina. Norton wanted a space for youth to talk and be open, but also wanted to develop avenues to help them develop into leaders. Therefore, when opened, the NCLYN was a youth-led statewide leadership development network for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and allied (LGBTQA) young people, ages 13 to 24.
The Lambda Youth Network provided young people with an open, identify-affirming space, while helping LGBTQA young people develop as leaders and community organizers. A grassroots group aimed at helping inspire social change among young people, the NC Lambda Youth Network hosted numerous events for young people from the Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill areas to all come and get to know one another.
They hosted Soul Circle, a network for people of color to talk about issues relevant to their communities, the Rainbow Youth Coalition, a group of educators, young people and community members who were working to make schools safer for young people to learn, and even a Summer Leadership Institute, where 15 young people would work on a service project in the Triangle and try to place their experiences in the context of organizing for social justice.
However, today, the Lambda Youth Network is no longer open or providing services to the public. However, in early 2016, the LGBTQ Center of Durham opened its doors as an open, affirming space for all queer individuals.