CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Time Out Youth Center Executive Director Rodney Tucker announced the launch of a pilot program, Q Chat Space, to provide online support groups for LGBTQ teens in collaboration with CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers.
Q Chat Space is an online space where teens will join live, chat-based, facilitated support groups. The program gives youth safe opportunities to connect with each other, in spaces moderated by trusted adults, within a structure that encourages compassionate interactions and discourages bullying and harassment, the center shared.
“In addition to the hundreds of new youth that we have seen since moving to our new physical location at 3800 Monroe Rd., I am well aware that there are numerous youth who just can’t come in to our center because they live too far away, can’t get a ride, or are just not ready to take that step,” Tucker said. “When the center was approached about the opportunity to pilot Q Chat Space, I knew that we had to make it happen for all of those youth. Creating an online presence for our center is a natural fit to increase our ability to impact youth in the Carolinas.”
According to a report by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet,” LGBTQ youth report that they have more online friends than do non-LGBTQ youth and that they are using the Internet to connect with other LGBTQ individuals specifically. In addition, online spaces may offer LGBTQ youth new opportunities for being open about their LGBTQ identities. More than one in 10 LGBTQ youth said that they had first disclosed their LGBTQ identity to someone online, and more than one in four LGBTQ youth said they were more out online than in person.
“Q Chat Space aims to leverage young people’s current digital behaviors while also creating a new and safer space where they can receive support and information without fear,” stated Lora Tucker, CEO of CenterLink (no relation to Rodney Tucker). “We’re proud to be partnering with Time Out Youth as we move forward with Q Chat Space, and we’re excited to see how they can help us to expand and enhance the program.”
Time Out Youth will begin offering the online groups every Monday with a future goal of additional opportunities for youth to chat in the future. The first group was held on July 2 and gave participating youth an opportunity to get acquainted with each other. Topics for the group in the following weeks include Coming Out, Labels and Language and LGBTQ+ Representation in Media.
“By filling a crucial and unmet need for accessible and safe support groups, Q Chat Space will make a vital and even life-saving difference for vulnerable adolescents,” TOY’s Tucker stated. “Time Out Youth is honored to help pilot this important work.”
For more information about Time Out Youth Center or the pilot of Q Chat Space, email firstname.lastname@example.org.