BAGLY: The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, is a youth-led, adult-supported social support organization, committed to social justice and creating, sustaining, and advocating for programs, policies, and services for the LGBTQ+ youth community.
At BAGLY, we believe
In creating safe space. In BAGLY’s values: Respect, Diversity, Social Justice, Youth Leadership. In feeling safe. In having fun. In equal access to public accommodations, employment, and credit for transgender and gender variant people. In building a strong, youth-led social justice community. In conflict resolution. In change. In healthy relationships. In sexual freedom, and being sex positive. In health education. In safer sex.
We believe In being yourself. In being fabulous. In girls with curves. In adult support. In condoms. In love. In educational freedom. In harm reduction. In peace. In personal growth. In feeling like you matter.
Oh yeah, and also
That challenging oppression and dominant culture supremacy is a good thing. That language has diversity. That BAGLY is a family. That queer and trans youth need space to be themselves-that it is important to always strive to be a positive space for all queer and trans youth and to remain open to suggestions for improvement.
That providing learning and skills development opportunities actualizes youth leadership potential. That youth are capable of defining and making positive decisions for themselves & that youth matter and should be appreciated. That youth make a difference everyday.
In July of 1980, long before the days of community, political, or financial support, BAGLY was founded by LGBTQ+ youth who believed that an organization led by and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning youth would be central to meeting the core physical, social, and developmental needs of Greater Boston’s LGBTQ+ youth community. Turns out they were right! Three generations of queer youth movement leaders later, BAGLY is recognized nationally for its pioneering role in creating, sustaining, and advocating for social support, leadership development, and health promotion programs for LGBTQ+ youth. BAGLY’s approach and historic practice, which has served over 30,000 youth, is replicated by programs and organizations across the country and our earliest programs (Including our Youth Speakers Bureau, youth-led HIV/AIDS education, and the nation’s first prom for LGBTQ+ youth) have provided a foundation upon which many youth-led programs and organizations are built.
Throughout its history BAGLY has advocated and provided leadership for an LGBTQ+ community-driven statewide and national systems-based approach to working with LGBTQ+ youth. As a founding organization of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition and the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, and by establishing the GLBT Youth Group Network of Massachusetts, our vision and innovation has led the way in building a stable local and national infrastructure vital to today’s LGBTQ+ youth work.
Today, BAGLY provides community-based leadership development, health promotion, and social support programs for Massachusetts LGBTQ youth communities, and is a leader in local and national LGBTQ+ youth advocacy and workforce development.
For more about our history, check out our Where We Came From page.
Youth Leadership & Adult Support
As one of the country’s first and longest running youth-led, adult-supported LGBTQ+ organizations, BAGLY has added shape and definition to the field of youth work-with flair! In 1980, BAGLY’s youth and adults worked without a rulebook or roadmap: there were no best practices, no professional training for youth work, no coalitions, and not even one other LGBTQ+ youth group in the state with whom to collaborate. As a result, BAGLY’s youth and adult leadership worked together to establish and develop institutional best practices regarding: youth/adult organizational power and collaboration, personal boundaries between youth and adults, and meaningful youth participation and leadership. Today we have come to understand many of these principles as among the core concepts of the Youth Development Approach.
Diversity, Respect, & Social Justice
For many communities, institutional oppression-including racism, sexism, heterosexism, adultism, and classism-can negatively impact health and achievement outcomes. This is most notably true for LGBTQ+ youth who move through the world balancing multiple marginalized identities every day. As an organization committed to social justice, our advocacy work challenges oppression on an institutional level by identifying and naming the resulting disparities among LGBTQ+ youth.
BAGLY’s long-standing commitment to social justice also means that much of our youth programming focuses on promoting a greater understanding of and respect for the diversity within the youth communities we serve, and ensuring that our youth and adult leadership is reflective of that diversity.
We believe it is our responsibility as a diverse community to identify and emphasize the value of accountability for oppressive behaviors. As part of our Leadership Development programming, BAGLY staff, adult volunteers, youth leaders, and youth members work to recognize dominant group identity (white/male/gender normative/adult), make connections between oppressive behaviors and dominant groups, and develop the skills and caring behaviors needed to uphold BAGLY’s commitment to social justice and to create anti-oppressive environments for LGBTQ+ youth.
The BAGLY “Frees”
In order to create a safe and welcoming space at BAGLY where everyone is able to participate to the fullest, we think it’s important to maintain a space for LGBTQ+ youth that is free of sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, weapons, pressure, and harassment. As such, all participants of BAGLY’s programs and events are expected to refrain from engaging in sex, violence, pressure, and harassment and from carrying/holding/selling/distributing drugs, alcohol, or weapons while in our space.
We view this effort as very different from attempting to police or control behavior. We appreciate that LGBTQ+ youth engage in all kinds of behaviors for all kinds of different reasons (including sometimes for economic survival), and that LGBTQ+ youth make all kinds of decisions that exist within a continuum of negotiated safety and harm reduction.
We also recognize that as sexual minorities many LGBTQ+ youth experience denial of sexual difference, and as a result often receive incomplete/inaccurate information regarding desire, sexual possibility, safety, risk and resources. For these reasons, our approach to programming and services is youth-centered, non-judgmental and "sex-positive" (meaning we think consensual sex is natural and healthy). At BAGLY, members create opportunities to talk freely about sex, drugs and alcohol, ask questions, connect with appropriate referrals, and participate in programming which specifically addresses the gaps left by heterosexist/gender-normative educational frameworks.
Statewide & Boston-Based Programs for LGBTQ Youth
For over thirty years, BAGLY’s weekly programming and annual social events have provided safe, supportive, non-exploitative, and culturally competent spaces where LGBTQ+ youth can access social support and services, develop leadership, and build community. Over 3,000 youth ages 22 and under who are LGBTQ+ or questioning their sexual/gender identity participate in BAGLY’s Boston based programming every year.
Contrary to our name, BAGLY’s work extends well beyond the borders of the City of Boston. Through the GLBTQ+ Youth Group Network of Massachusetts, we provide technical assistance and training, capacity building, best practices development, and program evaluation to LGBTQ+ youth groups across the state. This vital work ensures that each year, nearly 7,000 LGBTQ+ youth and young adults from urban, suburban, and rural communities in Massachusetts access comprehensive, culturally competent social support, leadership development, and health promotion programs and referral services.
Visit our programs page to find out more about our Statewide and Boston-based work.
BAGLY has advocated for programs, policies, and services, built the community, social, and economic capital of youth, and contributed to the political power of the LGBTQ+ movement for over 30 years! Youth and adults from BAGLY were among the leaders of the advocacy efforts that added “sexual orientation” to the list of defined, protected groups in the Massachusetts Students’ Rights Law in 1993, and co-founded the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC), a national social justice organization established to strengthen the role of young people in the LGBTQ rights movement, later that same year. In 2008, BAGLY youth and adult staff were among the founding members appointed to the Massachusetts Commission on GLBT Youth.
BAGLY partners with a wide range of local and national organizations to develop policy agendas that support the needs of LGBTQ+ youth in the areas of LGBTQ+ hate crime violence and school bullying, homelessness, health access, sex education, right of minors, research, data collection, and other systematic issues. BAGLY also serves as the fiscal sponsor of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), and works with MTPC to advocate for the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming youth in Massachusetts.
Young LGBTQ+ movement leaders have played a vital role in identifying issues, working toward solutions, and reducing health, education, employment, and housing disparities among LGBTQ+ communities. The Queer Activist College (QuAC), a Boston-Based BAGLY program, engages young LGBTQ+ people from the most marginalized communities in organizing for policy and systems change, and connects young people with meaningful opportunities to create and grow youth-led campaigns and develop a vision for a strong, youth-led social justice community. BAGLY also supports QuAC graduates in applying their skills to higher education, meaningful employment, and advanced leadership opportunities in social justice organizing and other movement work.
When BAGLY was founded in 1980, it was the only GLBTQ youth-specific organization in Massachusetts, and one of the few in the country. Now it is part of a local and national network of GLBTQ and mainstream individuals, institutions, and organizations working together to impact the lives of GLBTQ young people.
Collaborative relationship building with community resources is a hallmark of BAGLY’s programming. We’ve seen first hand how collaboration increases our membership’s ability to “community map” supportive places and to identify allies and opportunities within neighborhoods, communities, and organizations.
CHECK OUT A FEW OF OUR FABULOUS CO-CONSPIRATORS WHO HAVE JOINED US IN OUR EFFORT TO ENSURE THAT A COMPREHENSIVE SYSTEM OF SERVICES, SUPPORT AND OPPORTUNITIES IS AVAILABLE TO AND ACCESSED BY THE YOUTH WHO NEED THEM:
Technical Assistance & Training
Although LGBTQ+-specific organizations such as BAGLY are critically important for the young people of our community, it is also important that mainstream youth-serving organizations work to become more culturally competent in serving young people of all identities and communities. We work with programs and organizations towards the goal of increasing LGBTQ+ youth competency in the sector, and expanding the community-based service and support networks available to LGBTQ+ youth.
BAGLY can provide professional trainings and technical assistance for high schools, colleges, LGBTQ+-specific, and mainstream organizations on a variety of LGBTQ+ youth related topics. Trainings, technical assistance, and speaking engagements may be contracted one-time or on an ongoing basis and can include: cultural competency building, program development, social media proficiency, health promotion, youth leadership development, and more. Training, technical assistance and public speaking fees very depending upon size and content. All fees support BAGLY’s programming and services for LGBTQ+ youth. Contact us to find out more.
Also, many high school GSAs, college groups, and even some “AGLYs” have been founded by youth who developed and honed their skills at BAGLY. Our Leadership Development and Health Promotion programs are a great resource for schools, churches, and community groups looking to increase the public speaking, meeting facilitation, health promotion, and other leadership skills of their youth participants. Contact us for more information on ways to connect youth with our programs.