EL Paso LGBT youth center named for state Rep. Mary González

A transitional center for LGBT youth in El Paso is being named for state Rep. Mary Gonzalez.

A new transitional center for LGBT youth set to open in October in El Paso, Texas will be named for state Rep. Mary E. González (D-El Paso), the first pansexual legislator in the country.

“Every young person should have access to not only a safe environment, but a place that can set them up for a pathway to success. I am glad that El Paso has a center for LGBT youth who need a safe place. I am honored that the leadership of the center have asked to use my name,” González said in a statement earlier this month.

According to a report in the El Paso Times, “The Mary E. González Transitional Center for LGBT Youth will serve a hot meal three times a week, connect young people with resources and provide clothes and toiletries . . . Eventually, the transitional center will include a shelter.”

“We always need to make sure that we are taking care of our most vulnerable young people,” González told the El Paso Times. “We know that we need to have a place where they will feel safe.”

González came out as pansexual (she is attracted to various gender identities) after being elected in 2012. Earlier this year, she was honored by Equality Texas with the Advocate Award which is given annually to “a public figure or figures with a steadfast reputation for supporting issues of equality for all Texans.”

The award was presented at the Spirit of Texas Brunch in San Antonio last May.

In their award announcement, Equality Texas praised González for championing House Bill 71 to equalize Texas’ “Romeo and Juliet” defense and “for her outstanding advocacy on behalf of LGBT people in the 83rd and 84th Legislative Sessions.”

The founders of the El Paso transitional center are seeking grants and searching for a building. In the interim, the center is being run from the Pride Center, a facility that serves youth in foster care. The official opening date is October 7.

“I could not be more honored and proud to be associated with this center for LGBT youth in our community,” González said. “I am inspired by the co-founder’s vision: ‘Striving for a world that transcends the divisions of gender and sexual identification.’ This service will be invaluable to some of our community’s most vulnerable young people.”

The Mary E. González Transitional Center for LGBT Youth is collecting monetary donations, as well as donations of clothes, food and other items. For more information, call Sunny Ybarra, director of operations, at 915-345-7261

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