The Bryson Institute

The Bryson Institute offers dynamic, interactive, and educational trainings around best practices for working with LGBTQ individuals. From social service and health care providers, to faith communities, to schools, our goal is to improve the climate and support systems for LGBTQ youth in their everyday environments by fostering understanding, imparting knowledge, and providing strategies for creating safe and affirming environments.

From one hour to full day trainings to multi-day sessions, the Institute creates an environment where dialogue can begin about how to create caring, compassionate and accepting communities, whether in schools, youth-serving agencies or the workplace.

To request training or for more information please click here.

History & Purpose

In 1998, the brutal hate crime murder of gay student Matthew Shepard brought together a group of local Philadelphia activists who decided that it was time something had to be done.

United in common outrage, James H. Bryson, activist and philanthropist, and the Executive Directors of Episcopal Community Services of Philadelphia (ECS), Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia (JFCS), and Lutheran Children and Family Service (LCFS) together committed themselves to building support, encouragement, and education on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth across the country.

To fulfill this mission, the group came together in the spirit of justice, compassion, and concern for the well being of all young people, specifically their right to have access to safe spaces.

In December 2000, James Bryson and the faith based agencies joined forces with The Attic Youth Center, whose history and expertise in providing services to LGBTQ youth would serve to propel the project forward. The Attic Youth Center and the faith partners recognized the opportunity to help the region’s youth to develop in a more inclusive and supportive environment and together created the James H. Bryson Institute of The Attic Youth Center.

Since 2001, the Institute has been working to educate youth and adults about issues of respect and diversity. The Institute supports individuals, communities, and organizations in effecting personal and organizational changes to build inclusive environments that recognize and promote the value of diversity. In less than a decade, the Institute has trained over 30,000 individuals in schools/colleges/university systems, social service agencies, workplaces, faith-based organizations, and communities to help create supportive and affirming environments for the LGBTQ community, specializing in particular in the needs of LGBTQ youth.

The Bryson Institute of The Attic Youth Center is committed to improving the climate and support systems for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) people, and specifically for LGBTQ youth and young adults. By providing education, outreach, and consultation services to the spaces that impact them the most, we seek to create more supportive and affirming places, spaces, and faces for all those who fall within the realm of the LGBTQ identity.

Training Services

  • All Bryson Institute trainings are specifically designed and tailored for the unique needs of different organizations.
  • Serving audiences from 5-75 participants
  • Workshops available for youth, social service providers, professionals, parents (foster, adoptive, and biological), corporate communities – anyone!
  • Offering presentations ranging from one hour to a full-day to multi-training series
  • Adaptable presentation style – interactive activities, PowerPoint presentations, group discussions
  • Attic Youth Panelists often accompany trainers and share their experience with your audience and open themselves up to questions and conversation.


Within our introductory training, we address the head, heart, and hand of the matter – providing basic information on LGBTQ individuals (i.e. vocabulary, demographics, etc.), building empathy and understanding around the particular barriers faced by LGBTQ people, and developing short- and long-term personal and organizational action steps toward building a safer and more supportive community for everyone to prosper in together. This training can be structured for members of all age groups, from middle and high school aged classrooms to adults in a plethora of professions and social contexts.

LGBTQ Students in K-12 Classrooms

As more and more young people begin to speak up about their experiences with harassment in the classroom, we are learning about the importance of having real conversations with students of all ages about difference and respect. However, many educators and administrators are unfamiliar with how to broach this topic within an academic setting. The Bryson Institute assists you by facilitating these initial conversations by using interactive activities that range from performance art to team-building games, and age-appropriate material that students find both engaging and accessible. Our emphasis is frequently around how we relate to each other – When I say this word, how does it make my peers feel? If I’m upset at school, who should I talk to? – as well as how we understand each other – What does LGBTQ mean anyhow? Why does it matter to me? All trainings are adapted to optimally fit each classroom we enter, be it 5th graders or high school seniors.

LGBTQ Training for Healthcare Settings

With less access to adequate and accessible health care options, large numbers of LGBTQ people are often left with unaddressed answers, risks, and health care needs. What are the primary health care risks for intersex people that health care providers should know about? Why are transgender people less likely to be able to access health care? This training provides information on best practices for healthcare providers working with LGBTQ patients. We focus on the ways in which sexual orientation and gender identity present themselves in the healthcare context, common concerns that may be experienced or presented by LGBTQ individuals in the medical field, and ways to make your clinical environment more inclusive, supportive, and empowering for your patients.

LGBTQ for Social Service Providers

Under the broad field of social services, social workers see individuals through some of their best, and sometimes most dire situations. In order to better serve our communities, it is imperative to look at individuals not just for the issues they may present when they first step through our doors, but also as their holistic selves. In what ways have this LGBTQ client’s sexual orientation impacted their ability to find housing? A job? A trusted support system? This training provides information on the LGBTQ community, barriers they may experience prior to their entry into an organization, and working with participants to develop intentional steps for creating a more inclusive and supportive organization.

Interwoven Transitions Training for Child Welfare Service Providers

Designed in collaboration with a group of LGBTQ youth who have themselves been in foster care or group homes, the “Interwoven Transitions” training provides foster parents and child welfare service providers with the knowledge and skills necessary to build inclusive and respectful environments that ensure the safety and positive development of LGBTQ youth in these specific systems. Within this training, we present basic information on LGBTQ identity, build empathy and understanding around the particular barriers faced by LGBTQ youth within the child welfare system, and develop short- and long-term individual and organizational action steps toward building a safer and more supportive community.

Reconciling LGBTQ Individuals and Faith Communities

With the rising visibility of LGBTQ people in faith communities, many are asking questions that they have not had asked before. What is the discussion going on around LGBTQ issues within my faith community? Why should my faith community be LGBTQ inclusive? How do I know if it is? At the Bryson Institute, not only do we ensure that we stay regularly involved with local faith communities, we know that there are very specific concerns within these communities and we address them as thoughtfully as possible. With a broad array of insight and information regarding the intersections of faith, sexual orientation, and gender identity, we are able to come to your space of worship to assist you in facilitating healthy conversations about how to reconcile belief systems previously thought to be inherently conflicting and implementing approaches appropriate to your environment to make it an LGBTQ-friendly space.

LGBTQ Individuals in the Criminal/Juvenile Justice Systems

LGBTQ individuals within the criminal justice system are frequently an invisible or ignored population. For some individuals, entrance into the system is a direct result of homophobia, biphobia, and/or transphobia they have experienced. A higher level of understanding is needed by the professionals involved in these systems as to the various needs of diverse LGBTQ populations while they are under their care. Through lecture, experiential activities, and group/panel discussions, this training assists participants in acquiring the knowledge and skills to understand and support LGBTQ individuals within the criminal and/or juvenile justice system. Topics covered include: terms regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, difficulties individuals face in “coming out”, trends involving LGBTQ individuals in the criminal justice system, and action strategies for sensitive and effective service delivery.

Safe Space Ally Training In Colleges and Universities

The high school to college experience is one of great transition, and the impact of a supportive environment on a student’s development into a positive, successful adult cannot be understated. This training focuses on best practices for supporting LGBTQ students in a collegiate environment – discussing everything from facilitating classroom conversations to ensuring a residential space that is safe for all. In addition to providing information on LGBTQ students, we work with participants to brainstorm ways in which everyone from educators to residential assistants and administrators can collectively build an optimal educational environment for all students.

LGBTQ Individuals in the Workplace

A diverse workforce is integral to any innovative and modernized business – driving overall economic growth, representing a broader consumer base, and lending itself to a competitive edge in an increasingly globalized workforce. However, LGBTQ employees remain one of the last minority groups to be recognized as entitled to a supportive work environment, and thus face multiple challenges in lending their skills and expertise to the workforce. While many places of business are taking intentional steps to ensure their LGBTQ employees are protected against discrimination, the nuances of a safe and supportive workplace often remain unexplored. This workshop will assist businesses of all sizes in developing an understanding of the experiences and unique strengths of the LGBTQ workforce, surveying their existing climate, and developing action steps for building an environment in which employees can bring their whole selves to their work.


Institute staff are available to work individually with clients to assess your organization’s needs and current cultural strengths and weaknesses, as well as to create specific goals. The Institute provides consulting services on creating a more inclusive environment, and may include recommendations for policy or programmatic changes as well as trainings and workshops. Most of all, Institute staff work with clients to create the capacity to run sustainable programs that integrate diversity, respect, and inclusion into the organization’s culture and systems.

To request a training or for more information, click to email.

Or call us at +1 (215) 545-4331


Your presentation, “Are We Speaking the Same Language? Creating Safe Spaces for LGBTQ Students” was essential in that it helped me realize that no matter what we do we must meet students where they are in their sexual identity development. I appreciated your candor throughout the presentation and how you were able to speak about the various resources that are offered at the Attic. Andre and Jermaine were two very good examples of the positive work that is possible when the right resources and support are offered to youth at the right time…As we continue this professional and personal development in our adult community, I am sure you will be hearing more from us.
St. Josephs’ Preparatory School
This training should be mandatory for all people working with vulnerable youth. The training yielded a sincere need for self-reflection – it had a real impact, which is so rare. The trainers were amazing. It was obvious that they enjoyed doing it. This was the most useful and interesting training I’ve had in years.
Pinebrook Family Services
This session was unique because LGBT sessions in the past have always been focused on the "LGB" rather than the "T" (in my experience). I thought it was very professionally done and that the participation of other Resident Assistants sharing their experiences was also very valuable. It was definitely a safe zone to discuss such issues and it was nice that the youth were there to share their experiences with us. I also LOVED the activity that we did!
Philadelphia University
Your presentation “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Healthcare: Helping Individuals Navigate the System” was very well received by our staff. Evaluations reflected that those in attendance gave your session high marks for being informative, thought provoking, and helpful to the work they do.
Jefferson University Hospital
The firsthand knowledge of the material and real life experiences made the content that much more powerful. An important breath of fresh air!
Interwoven Transitions Webinar
Your workshop was just right, I thought. It was thorough, compassionate, informative and creative. The fact the three of our students felt safe enough to talk about coming out was proof enough to me of the success of your work. I trust it was illuminating for everyone on many levels.
Temple University
Instruction and training with whiteboard in background


Nonprofit and Social Service Organizations
Caring People Alliance
Carson Valley Children’s Aid
Congreso de Latinos Unidos
Covenant House
Delta Community Supports
Episcopal Community Services
Intercultural Family Services
Jewish Family and Children Services
Lutheran Children & Family Services
Lutheran Settlement House
Northeast Treatment Centers
Support Center for Child Advocates
Women Against Abuse
Women Organized Against Rape
Youth Empowerment Services
Youth Service, Inc.

Cooper University Hospital
Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
Jefferson University Hospital

District Attorney’s Office
Dow Chemical Company

Arise Academy
Anna H. Shaw Middle School
Birney Elementary School
Delaware Valley Friends School
Germantown Friends School
Masterman High School
Multicultural Charter School
Plymouth Whitemarsh High School
YouthBuild Charter School

Colleges and Universities
Arcadia University
Art Institute of Philadelphia
Bryn Mawr College
Curtis Institute of Music
Delaware Valley College
Drexel University
La Salle University
Lincoln University
Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
St. Joseph’s University
Swarthmore College
Temple University
University of Pennsylvania
Villanova University

Contact us to request training or for more information