As this summer season reaches its peak and we head, unavoidably, toward the start of school again, it's noteworthy to see the significant local support and resources that exist for LGBTQ+ youth in the Southcoast, primarily from The South Coast LGTBQ+ Network.
About 4.5 percent of U.S. adults, or more than 5.8 million people, identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, according to Mental Health America. Of those numbers, a high percentage experience mental health challenges due to the discrimination, violence, and stigma they face -- especially LGBTQ+ youth.
LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than teens who don't identify as LGBTQ+ and LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal and over four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth, MHA found.
So connecting with other LGBTQ+ youth and adults, finding community and acceptance can make a huge difference - even a life-changing one - for these youth.
Luckily, this region has the South Coast LGTBQ+ Network, an organization which "creates and supports a thriving LGBTQ+ community on Massachusetts’ South Coast where members can freely, safely, and joyously celebrate their true selves and realize their full potential," according to its website.
The network has several events and programs happening between now and the start of school to support local youth. Here are just three options to check out:
An informal support group for kids 8-13 and their parents or guardians will be held at Buttonwood Park playground at 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 1. The group will be led by a licensed social worker from The South Coast LGTBQ+ Network. No registration is required.
Yoga with Jeff continues for LGBTQ+ youth and adults ages 14-24 at 4 p.m. on Fridays through August. The event includes mindfulness, meditation, yoga and togetherness and is held at 693. Purchase St. in New Bedford; and,
On Aug. 27, the network is inviting trans and non-binary adults over age 18 to the Zeiterion Theatre for a 6:45 p.m. screening of Keyboard Fantasies: The Beverly Glenn-Copeland Story, a documentary about "a transgender, septuagenarian musical genius who finally finds his place in the world."
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