We honor and value our callers’ life experiences, values, beliefs, and preferences and build on them as strengths. We believe that the caller is the expert who can best help themselves and we will work through issues at their pace. As such, we encourage callers to direct calls in a way that is most helpful for them.
We embrace a harm reduction model and value practical strategies that reduce negative impacts on people’s lives. We honor the goals and coping strategies of our callers, including behaviors that have been traditionally labeled as “maladaptive” or “unhealthy.” We acknowledge that complex social issues contribute to the caller's unique methods of survival.
Wraparound Service Model
We strive to respond to callers in a comprehensive way, treating their experiences as related and holistic instead of as isolated issues. We intend to provide resources that “wrap around” the caller to support them in all aspects of their life. We seek to incorporate the caller’s natural support systems to address their needs and will prioritize plans and resources that address multiple concerns.
As as community-based resource, we focus on supporting callers in the context of their community. We aim to plug into and expand existing community networks and strengths. We are prepared to provide referrals and resources that do not rely on interaction with law enforcement or state-run institutions, and are willing to safety plan interventions for callers that do not rely on the criminal legal system.
We value our callers’ privacy and right to withhold personal information from uses that they are not aware of or do not consent to. All caller information is protected by our Helpline Volunteers, Clinical Supervisors, and Practicum Supervisors. All caller information is considered confidential, including caller’s name, age, gender, occupation, relationship status, etc. All information regarding calls is discussed in private only with other SQSH volunteers, Clinical Supervisors, or Practicum Supervisor(s). All physical notes taken during calls remain within the locked areas of the SQSH office, or shredded within a month of the call.
Intersectionality: The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage; a theoretical approach based on such a premise. (Oxford Dictionary)
Since the overlap of various social identities contributes to experiences of oppression, we acknowledge that the impacts of systemic discrimination exacerbate and compound queer people’s experiences. We pay special attention to the experiences of LGBTQIA+ people who hold multiple marginalized identities, such as Black, Indigenous, and other people of color in the community, low-income people, people with disabilities, and people who are undocumented. We aim to amplify the “letters” in the LGBTQIA+ acronym who have been less visible - including bisexual, pansexual, trans, intersex, asexual, aromantic, two-spirit, and other communities encompassed by the “+”. We strive to uplift these communities that experience unique challenges and barriers and that have historically been isolated in the national conversation around queer issues.
We value transformative justice: a way of addressing harm and building safety, accountability, and healing that relies on communities instead of the police, the law, or the state. We use a systems approach to understand caller’s challenges, seeing the problems of individuals as rooted in systems and conditions that need to be transformed, instead of putting the onus on the caller to solve their problems alone.
We know that we may not be able to reach incarcerated people, poor people, people in rural communities, people who find the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community inaccessible, people far from St. Louis resources, people who are not “out,” children, young adults, people in abusive relationships who do not have the freedom to call our helpline, people who do not have access to a phone, people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing, people who do not speak English fluently, people who are not comfortable with calling, and people who face other barriers. Over the years, we strive to be more accessible as a resource.
We aim to apply a trauma-informed framework, which involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of trauma. Trauma-informed care emphasizes physical, psychological and emotional safety for both callers and volunteers, and helps survivors of trauma rebuild a sense of control and empowerment.
We strive to achieve long-term stability in service of the St. Louis LGBTQIA+ community by thinking long-term while managing our day-to-day operations. This means that we vigilantly plan for the sustainability of our service and tailor our actions and goals according to realistic understandings of existing resources and limitations.
We aim to be conscious and transparent about the support that we can offer and the limitations of what we can provide. We acknowledge that our Helpline is often a Band-Aid solution to the caller’s needs. Our goal is to make ourselves available to as many LGBTQIA+ individuals in St. Louis as possible, but also to work the need for our Helpline out of existence.
Our volunteers have gone through significant training and make conscious choices not to misuse our individual privilege as volunteers holding confidential information about our callers. As an organization, we make conscious choices not misuse our institutional power as a Helpline and a resource for the local LGBTQIA+ community.
The structural competency movement aims to understand disparities at the level of neighborhoods, institutions, and policies. Our volunteers are not only taught to be empathetic and sensitive to our callers' social identities, but also trained to understand the upstream factors (such as heterosexism, transphobia, racism, and poverty) that put someone in distress.
Our HelplineToll Free | 844-785-SQSH (7774) Local | 314-380-SQSH (7774)
Our Hours Friday - Monday 1 PM-7 PM
We connect the LGBTQIA+ community in Greater St. Louis with peer-support services, including a volunteer-run phone helpline, public resource manual, and resources for the queer+ community and their allies.