CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Time Out Youth Center (TOY), 2320 N. Davidson St., in partnership with Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), has announced that it will begin holding monthly discussion groups in Gaston County beginning on Dec. 15, 6:30 p.m., at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 258 W. Franklin Blvd., in Gastonia, N.C., with an introductory session.
LGBT youth between the ages of 13-20 are welcome to attend. The group sessions are designed to provide a safe and inclusive space for LGBT youth to gather with one another and their allies to discuss issues relevant to their identities and experiences, TOY said. Adult volunteers and staff will act as supervisors and will lend support as needed. The first meeting will help establish the Gaston presence while it begins to take shape. Future meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of each month.
“It is important that LGBT youth have a space to gather in a supportive environment and have friends and adults who understand and accept them,” stated Rodney Tucker, TOY executive director. “Our programming is youth focused and led, providing LGBTQ youth leadership opportunities and acceptance they might not find at home or school.”
Discussion groups are on a drop-in basis and no registration or fees are required for youth to participate. Adult volunteers are required to complete the center volunteer orientation that includes an application, criminal background check, references and training.
“We had a large number of requests for services from youth and their support systems in Gaston. We are excited to be able to fill this gap and give them the programming they have requested” shared O’Neale Atkinson, director of youth programs. “It is exciting to have the support of PFLAG and the Gaston community to make this possible.”