Commenting on the situation in Cortez, Colorado

Through Pizza Klatch, Thurston County LGBTQ+ youth have safe and confidential places to meet during school hours to gain support and community


Situations like what’s happening in Cortez, Colorado really break my heart.  See "It all began with pizza."

Young people coming together in search of community and understanding are being met with ignorance and attempts to dismantle a very genuine desire for community. Although Pizza Klatch had a similar beginning, we have been able to sustain a confidential, youth-led space through hard work and dedication by not only our staff and by our incredible community members and volunteers. Here’s a bit of our history:

“In response to a rash of suicides among LGBTQ+ youth in Thurston County, WA in 2007, a group of concerned private therapists, community leaders, and mental health professionals teamed up with the North Thurston School District to create an after-school support group for high school students who identify as LGBTQ+. Many of these youth had no other access to LGBTQ+ information or support, lived at home with unaccepting families, or were not able to come out to their parents or classmates for fear of negative outcomes.

The after-school support group provided a refuge for youth in need, but was discontinued in fall of 2007 after students were discovered by disapproving parents and suffered punishment. The support group quickly moved to lunchtime, and pizza was served at the first "Pizza Klatch" in February of 2008. Now youth had a safe and confidential place to meet during school hours to gain support and community.

Pizza Klatch as an organization is committed to upholding spaces like the one in Cortez so that students can have a supportive and confidential space to meet up with their peers and eat pizza. Getting to a state of acceptance has not been an easy journey.  We all have worked hard to have our schools excited to welcome us and community members eager to support us. For 14 years our program has been instrumental in changing school culture for the better and providing representation for LGBTQ+ youth. The beginning is often difficult and fraught with challenges, but the impact that organizations like Pizza Klatch and individuals like Lance McDaniel have on the LGBTQ+ youths of their communities makes all of the difficulties worth the effort.

Currently, Pizza Klatch is figuring out how to shift back from virtual klatches to in-school klatches with pizza for the new school year. This means we need even more support from our Thurston County community than before. Even during a pandemic, we have plans to grow and expand into new high schools to provide safe places, which will increase our need for dedicated and passionate volunteers. If you work at a school, we also do free training on various topics related to supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Please check out our website and social media for all of those opportunities and additional resources for LGBTQ+ youth.

Students say:

-“PK provides me a safe environment and an open-minded space to learn!”

-“PK is amazing. The people there are very supportive. PK makes me feel safe. When I go there I know things will be just fine no matter what I go through.”

 Jay Banks (they/them), became executive director of Pizza Klatch in June 2020. 


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