By John Wright – Staff Writer

New director wants to be ‘bridge’ for LGBT youth

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Judith Dumont says she’d be a lesbian if she could.

Given that she’s straight, though, Dumont chose the next best thing working in the gay community.

On Friday, Feb. 1, Dumont will become director of administration for Youth First Texas, the Dallas-based nonprofit serving LGBT youth.

"I feel like it’s a forgotten population, and I feel like it’s the most discriminated against population," said the 30-year-old Dumont, who’s been volunteering at Youth First since last April.

"I think the time is now to make sure from a human rights perspective that this community is not only respected but celebrated," she added. "I can be a bridge between communities."

Dumont, who recently earned her master’s degree from the University of North Texas, is clearly excited about her new job. And Youth First co-founder Bob Miskinis said he’s equally excited to have her.

Until now, Miskinis has been the 9-year-old agency’s only full-time employee. Last year, Youth First provided services to about 900 different youth, ages 14-22, on a budget of just $120,000, he said. Dumont’s position will be funded with the help of a 50 percent match from a donor who wishes to remain anonymous.

Miskinis said he typically works 60 to 70 hours a week and is on call 24 hours a day. Dumont will take over office duties like accounting, marketing and fundraising, allowing Miskinis to spend more of his time working directly with clients.

"We’re dealing with life and death situations a lot of times with these kids, so it’s not like you can leave at 5 o’clock and say my day is over," Miskinis said. "It’s really important to be able to be there for them whenever they need you."

Miskinis and fellow co-founder Bob Ivancic, a member of Youth First’s board of directors, said they hope Dumont’s arrival will allow the agency to launch two much-needed programs.

The first, offered in conjunction with the Dallas Independent School District, will give LGBT youth a chance to earn their GEDs in the computer lab at Youth First’s offices near Maple Avenue and Hudnall Street.

The GED program, expected to roll out this summer, will help address the fact that 28 percent of LGBT youth don’t finish high school.

The second program will identify local families that are willing to take in homeless youth ages 18 and up. Statistics show that LGBT youth, who often get kicked out or run away because their parents aren’t accepting, account for as much as 40 percent of the homeless population in their age groups.

Youth First currently provides social and educational activities five nights a week. Miskinis said the new programs would be in line with the agency’s mission of offering a comprehensive set of services.

"We envision it like a one-stop shop," Miskinis said.

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