Picton Library home of safe LGBTQ+ youth space

SAFE SPACE- A new safe gathering area for LGBTQ+ youth in Prince Edward County has been facilitated at the Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette File Photo)
JASON PARKS

STAFF WRITER

Starting Thursday,  LGBTQ+ youth have a new safe space to gather in Prince Edward County with funding for a six month pilot secured from the Greater Than: County Youth Collective.

The project is launching to address the concerns of County youth.  A recent report written by county youth, convened by Prince Edward Learning Centre and the Greater Than Youth project outlined the challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth locally-Youth who too often continue to feel stigmatized, afraid, isolated find they are without the supports they need in the community.

The youth determined two priorities for action: 1) ongoing training for adults providing services to youth to deepen their understanding of the issues facing LGBTQ+ youth. 2) A queer positive,  space where LGBTQ+ youth and their allies can meet.

Professional development began earlier this spring with over 30 service providers gathering to discuss the issues, ask questions and commit to strengthening supports in the community for LGBTQ+ youth.

“It’s clear that when we work together the sum of our collective work is greater than what we can accomplish on our own” said Greater Than project Coordinator Kristin Wheatcroft.  

The new drop-in space for LGBTQ+ youth addresses a need in the community.

“LGBTQ+ youth deserve a space where they can feel safe to be themselves and enjoy all of the same activities as our peers: we want a space where we can talk, make art, play music, play boardgames, without fear; where we are respected for our strengths and celebrated for our differences.” said  advisory member, Curtis Jeffery.  

The successful funding proposal, written by youth with the support of PELC ensures that youth will continue to have a leadership role in planning and decision making as the project moves forward.

“Our goal is to create a space for LGBTQ+ and their allies where they are encouraged and empowered to be themselves,” said newly hired Project Coordinator, Joanna Howard.

“This is an important initiative created by young people in our community” added  Kathy Kennedy, Executive Director of PELC and part of the  Committee of the Greater Than Collective.  “We want Prince Edward County  LGBTQ+ youth to grow up with pride.”

  The new LGBTQ+ Youth Drop-in program will be delivered by the Prince Edward County LIbrary and opens Thursday, June 27. 

To get involved or find out more, please contact project coordinator, Joanna Howard, jhoward@peclibrary.org.