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History

JASMYN Voices
The video below includes a brief history of JASMYN, voices from the North Florida community, and voices of both alumni and current JASMYN young people. It premiered at the 9th Annual Coming Out Day Breakfast in October 2015:

Our History

JASMYN was founded in 1993 by a gay teen who responded to his own sense of isolation and suicidal thoughts by reaching out for support.  A handful of adults, including members of the newly created PFLAG Jacksonville Chapter, joined in to sponsor weekly gay youth support group meetings at the Willow Branch public library.  JASMYN was incorporated as a non-profit organization on National Coming Out Day, October 11, 1994, to build a safe space for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth ages 13-23 through nurturing their health and well-being and enhancing pride and self-esteem.

From the start, JASMYN defined itself as a “youth-centric” organization, committed to creating and providing youth development programs and supports through strong adult – youth partnerships, where youth leaders shared visions and power with adults in all aspects of the organizations work.  As an advocacy and support organization for LGBT youth, JASMYN took a stand as a visible organization working for social change for LGBT youth in Jacksonville and north Florida.

For six years JASMYN youth leaders and adult volunteers hosted weekly support groups for LGBT youth in the public libraries at Willow Branch and later Murray Hill.  The Gay Youth Information Line was established as a call-in line for young people in 1994, and through the support groups and information line JASMYN volunteers served hundreds of young people, providing information and peer support for coming out, HIV prevention, and youth leadership.  The OUTLOUD Panel was created as a tool for youth leaders to educate the community about the needs and experiences of LGBT Youth in 1995.

After establishing community collaborations and a commitment from many of the adult members in Jacksonville’s LGBT community, JASMYN was awarded a three year grant from the Florida Department of Health for HIV Prevention in 1998.  JASMYN opened its first youth drop in at St. Luke’s Metropolitan Community Church in the fall of 1998.  In early 1999, JASMYN moved into its first home, the JASMYN House on Rosselle Street. For six months hundreds of youth and adult volunteers painted and refurbished the JASMYN House to make it the JASMYN youth’s home away from home.  In 2003 with the continued support of our community and a lot of hard work we moved into our current three story building near Five Points on Peninsular Place.

Over 20,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth have benefited from JASMYN since its establishment in 1994. JASMYN has become one of Florida’s longest standing LGBTQ youth centers in the state and a nationally recognized organization.  JASMYN continues to grow as the needs for our community changes.  In 2009 the mission of JASMYN was broadened to include the role JASMYN plays in building partnerships and collaborations that advance the human rights for the LGBT community and our LGBT young people

Notable Events & Milestones in JASMYN’s History

1995 – JASMYN was awarded its first grant from the state agency HRS  for HIV Prevention work with youth – enabling JASMYN to add HIV prevention education to its support groups.

1996 – JASMYN’s first support groups were hosted at the Murray Hill Public Library

1997 – JASMYN expanded the hours of the Gay Youth Information Line as a way for LGBT youth to find support and access to resources.

1999 – Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation becomes the only NFL team to support LGBT youth with its grant to JASMYN

2000 – JASMYN hosts the city’s first gay and lesbian film festival, featuring a weekend of GLBT youth oriented films from around the world

2000 – JASMYN was selected by the National Youth Advocacy Coalition to host the Southern Regional Conference in Jacksonville.  Over 100 LGBT youth from across the south attended the conference

2001 – JASMYN was a founding member and the fiscal sponsor for the Northeast Florida Safe Schools Coalition, whose goal was to promote safe schools for all in Northeast Florida.  Among the work on the Coalition was teacher training and hosting monthly meetings with a component called “Howl”, a speakout opportunity for teachers and students to share experiences of discrimination and harassment in the school system.

2001 – JASMYN hosted the first  annual Alternative Gay Youth Prom

2002 – JASMYN provided core leadership and support to the Northeast Florida Safe Schools Coalition resulting in a victory to include sexual orientation in Duval County’s Schools hate crimes policy

2002 – The Justice for Terrianne Coalition was established following the murder of transgender activist and JASMYN volunteer, Terrianne Summers.  During the aftermath of the murder investigation, the coalition, under JASMYN leadership, created a LGBT community liaison with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office

2003 – JASYMN’s youth leadership program was featured in the national publication, Future 500: A Comprehensive Guide to Youth Organizing and Activism.

2003 – JASMYN initiates LGBT Youth in Foster Care Advocacy Project, to work to make the child welfare system safer for LGBT youth.

2003 – JASMYN secures first time funding from the City of Jacksonville to support their Safety Net project for homeless and at risk youth

2004 – JASMYN presented with the Rev. Troy Perry Award for Outstanding Community Service by the St. Lukes MCC.

2004 – JASMYN sponsors a Mini-Ball at the JAX Black Pride festival and sends youth and adults to the First Coast Pride Parade and Festival

2004 – JASMYN hosts a regional listening forum in collaboration with Child Welfare League of America and Lambda Legal, with the largest number of youth for any similar forum in the country

2005 – Received funding from the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation, Pfizer Southern HIV/AIDS Prevention Initiative, Liberty Hill Queer Youth Fund, and Tides Out of Home Youth Fund

2006 – Launched the LGBT Youth In Foster Care Task Force with support from Department of Children and Families, Family Support Services, and Jewish Family and Community Services

2007 – Launched on-site health clinic for youth, in partnership with UF Shands, Department of Pediatrics, and Duval County Health Department