Among the scores of events across NSW this week marking National Youth Week, one has special significance for southern Sydney’s gay and lesbian community.

St George and Sutherland gay youth support group GLYSSN celebrates 10 years of community service with a party in Hurstville tonight, Thursday 6 April.

The group started a decade ago as a social outlet for young same-sex-attracted people, but has since seen its role expand beyond twice-monthly youth meetings.

Where the project has grown is working more with local community services and local councils to address homophobia and improve access for young people to other services, GLYSSN project coordinator David Moutou told Sydney Star Observer.

The age that young people are coming out on average tends to be younger, and we have a lot more contact with school counsellors now, where a young person might come out to them and the school counsellors are looking for support.

GLYSSN is in contact with about 40 young people aged under 25, and it has won council funding for various projects over the years.

But challenges remain, not least homophobia, with a survey last year showing residents of southern Sydney were more likely to think homosexuality was immoral than people from other parts of the city.

Moutou said GLYSSN was equal to the task.

We’ve existed for 10 years in an area that people presume is monocultural or conservative, he said.

We’ve got a project at the moment which is with Macedonian, Arabic, Oceanic and Chinese young people. GLYSSN has a lot to offer to the St George and Sutherland area in terms of how we embrace diversity.

ACON has also marked National Youth Week by announcing its Queer Peer Project will soon be offering community training to young gay and lesbian people in Coffs Harbour, Lismore, Wollongong and western Sydney.

The recently launched project has already helped queer youth set up community projects in Sydney and Newcastle.

National Youth Week runs until 9 April. GLYSSN’s 10 Year Party is on tonight, Thursday 6 April, at YouthZone, 18 Treacy St, Hurstville, from 6pm to 8pm. All are welcome.

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