OUT MetroWest became an independent not-for-profit organization in 2015, but it began to operate youth programs in 2011. The organization’s first program, WAGLY, was created as a program of the Unitarian Universalists of Wellesley. It formed in response to requests from local youth and their families, who sought a safe space for LGBTQ high schoolers in MetroWest Boston. Jack Lewis, then a minister at the Unitarian church, led the initial group with the help of supportive community members. The only program of its kind between Boston and Worcester, WAGLY immediately drew dozens of area youth with its weekly social, educational, and supportive meetings.
In 2012, the organization’s second program launched. Umbrella, a twice-monthly program for transgender and gender non-conforming high schoolers, was created in response to community requests. Like WAGLY, Umbrella operated out of the Unitarian church in Wellesley and meetings offered a similar combination of social interaction, education, and support, but they were facilitated by transgender and gender non-conforming adults.
By 2014, the demand for programming was only increasing, and it became clear that the programs had outgrown their home at the church. The organization decided to seek independent not-for-profit status as OUT MetroWest, with Jack Lewis serving as executive director.
As an official not-for-profit, the organization began to form a “home base” in 2015, securing office space and launching the state’s first program for LGBTQ and allied middle schoolers, Nexus, in Framingham. Between WAGLY, Umbrella, and Nexus, the organization currently runs eight youth meetings per month. Since 2011, OUT MetroWest has directly served more than 800 youth at its meetings, has conducted dozens of trainings for local schools and organizations, and has welcomed nearly 200 guests at its events for LGBTQ families. In April 2017, Sawyer Bethel, LICSW was named the organization’s Interim Executive Director, following Jack Patrick Lewis’s election to the state legislature. Plans for 2017 and beyond include an expansion in drop-in hours for LGBTQ young people.