Girls Circle is a gender-specific group model for girls and for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) youths (9–18) who identify with female adolescence. Girls Circle is designed to address girls’ unique risks, strengths, and needs by utilizing gender-responsive principles and practices to build healthy connections, address challenges, reduce risks, and build social–emotional skills.
The program’s primary goals are to 1) encourage genuine self-expression and voice; 2) develop healthy relationships and identities; 3) counter harmful gender stereotypes that distort female identity and self-worth; 4) develop healthy emotional coping and decision-making skills; 5) generate awareness and accountability; and 6) empower girls to pursue their full potential.
Girls Circle is informed by relational–cultural theory and uses resiliency principles, strengths-based approaches, and motivational interviewing. Relational–cultural theory views relationships as central to girls’ development, shaping overall health and resiliency across emotional, physical, social, spiritual, and cognitive spheres. The strengths-based approach balances girls’ strengths and needs to increase protective factors while reducing risks. Motivational interviewing (MI) is a best practice to stimulate change and engage participants in personally meaningful change efforts.
Core components of the program are delivered through 13 themed curriculum activity guides, each one addressing topics such as mother–daughter circle; body image; mind, body, spirit (this guide is in both English and Spanish); friendship; diversity; relationships; and individuality. Each session follows the same six steps, including 1) Opening Ritual: an activity that is chosen to initiate the circle process at the beginning of each session and continues for the duration of the program; 2) Theme Introduction: the facilitator identifies the themes to discuss during the session activities; 3) Check-In: a council-type format that offers each girl the opportunity to speak and express her current feelings while all other participants actively listen; 4) Activity: specific activities that are directly related to the day’s theme; 5) Sharing of Activity: participants reflect on the day’s activities and discussions; and 6) Closing Ritual: brings closure to the circle and offers the participants a tone of gratitude and respect as they depart.