Try-U – A safe place for youth Kids gravitate toward other kids who are having similar life experiences. But what if a youngster doesn’t know anyone like them, or how to start a conversation to find out? It’s an issue for children who identify as LGBT2Q+ and for the past year and a half they have had a place to go where they can share their concerns and receive support. Try-U is a social group for 6-14-year-olds, including those who are questioning their sexuality. Try-U stands for The Rainbow Youth Umbrella and it provides a safe space and a place to talk openly about worries, fears and to ask questions. Facilitator Christa Duvall says, “You can hang out with other kids who are having similar experiences, share stories and ideas. In 1991, research showed that the average age of coming out was 25. That has fallen steadily through the years. For millennials, the average age is now 18, and they have been sure about their sexuality for a few years before sharing it openly. Christa and fellow Try-U founder Megan Morris noticed a lack of resources for kids seeking answers and support regarding their sexuality. Some parents wanted to help their kids but found there was nowhere to send them for information. The women had no idea whether young people would respond to Try-U, but they have. Ten to 15 arrive to the monthly meetings at Pillar Non-Profit, sometimes with their parents, who are also finding a support system of their own. “This is a place where no one has to worry about being judged”, says Christa. And they do other regular kid-stuff together at Try-U. If they group decides they want to talk, they talk. But sometimes the children choose to paint, make crafts or have a game night. For Christa Duvall, who runs the group with Megan, seeing the kids transform is its own reward. But it’s also difficult when a child reveals that their family doesn’t support them or they’re getting bullied at school. Research shows the most common reason LGBT2Q+ individuals are apprehensive about coming out is a worry about how their family will react. Being isolated or estranged from family members is a genuine concern. Having someone to talk to about it, who reacts with love and support, is what Try-U is all about. Try-U meets the third Thursday of each month at Innovation Works, 201 King Street, from 6:00 - 8:00pm. Doors are only open from 6:00 - 6:15pm. For more information, email email@example.com.
Rainbow Optimist Club On September 10, 2019 the Rainbow Optimist Club celebrated it first anniversary. Over the course of last year they have worked with the libraries in Elgin County, Middlesex County, St. Thomas and recently reached out to Oxford County to create a safer space for the rural LGBT2Q+ youth in rural libraries. A safe space is “a place or environment in which a person can feel confident that they will not be exposed to discrimination, criticism, harassment, or any other emotional or physical harm.” The goal of creating “a safer space is to create a space where people can find themselves represented and reflected, and where they understand that all people are treated with respect and dignity.” The Club was busy delivering Drag Queen Storytimes within these libraries and this fall creating a pilot Rainbow Speakers Panel. This panel is being designed for LGBT2Q+ teens, their families and friends but will be available for all members of the community. The libraries want the teens to be able to bring families and friends as well as feeling safe and welcomed. The Rainbow Optimists are opening doors, giving support to rural LGBT2Q+ youth, educating the community, and creating opportunities for everyone to participate and be included in their community. Thinking you’d like to become a member of the Rainbow Optimist Club, join them at one of their meetings as a guest and check them out. For more information about the meetings email them at: RainbowOptimist@gmail.com. Also, check out the Optimist Creed that all Optimist members strive to live by: www.optimist.org/member/creed.cfm.
Page 9 Issue 2 • Fall 2019
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