In January 2021, the Women’s Leadership Project launched the #Standing4BlackGirls Wellness Initiative, which provides free, culturally responsive, humanist-aligned individual & group therapy for Black, Latinx and LGBTQI+ youth in South L.A. 16-24 years old.
The initial pilot was launched to address the lack of therapy access for Black girl sexual and domestic violence survivors.
In 2020, WLP members Mariah Perkins and Kim Ortiz (then 10th and 11th graders), spearheaded a survey which found that over 60% of Black girl survivors of sexual harassment and sexual violence survivors in their sample of South L.A. high school students had not received care or intervention.
Nationwide, Black LGBTQI+ and Black female identified youth have some of the highest rates of sexual violence abuse in the nation, yet seldom receive culturally responsive mental health. The majority of young Black women survivors struggle to find practitioners who have their lived experience and community context.
They are also routinely victim-blamed/shamed and policed by law enforcement, Black churches, families, and schools. As greater numbers of Black women essential workers are forced out of the workplace to provide childcare, Black girls (who are often primary and secondary caregivers themselves) have experienced the brunt of pandemic stressors at home, in school, and in the community.
To date, the #S4BG pilot has served over a dozen WLP and ally youth through a partnership with Open Paths Counseling Center in Inglewood and funding from Black Skeptics L.A. and the California Freedom Fund.
In July, WLP received support from Open Paths to expand free service to more South L.A. youth. Youth who live west of the 110 and north of the 105 freeways are a focus of the OP funding.
Female-identified BIPOC youth can sign up to receive free therapy from Women of Color and BIPOC queer practitioners (for minor youth, the service is confidential under California’s minor consent laws).
App and info https://bit.ly/3hwrwTi