A Safe Space
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
For LGBTQ+ youth, finding a safe space or a group free of judgment and discrimination can be paramount to their emotional and mental health. LGBTQ+ youth encounter increased adversity. Due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, they face greater amounts of family rejection, abuse, and bullying putting them at greater risk for homelessness, sexual abuse, depression, and suicide.
Middle school can be challenging itself, but especially so for students who struggle with gender, identity, and fitting in. Communities In Schools of Eastern Pennsylvania’s Marysa Fahringer, a social worker at Easton Area Middle School, recognized LGBTQ+ students needed a safe space to explore their feelings and engage with their peers in an encouraging and supportive environment. To meet student needs, she created an LGBTQ+ group for her students in grades 6-8 that meets weekly.
A lesson plan is prepared for each meeting that focuses on a particular theme, such as gender and identity, acceptance, or role models. Through prompts, activities, and discussions, students can express their feelings regarding identity, family and friends, social media, mental health, and community.
“Each week, I notice the students becoming more comfortable, expressive, and encouraging, and the group continues to grow by word of mouth. Thanks to the LGBTQ+ group, students have created friendships they might not have had otherwise,” reflected Marysa. “Their excitement and eagerness to connect radiates through them, and I’m proud to provide a space for them to be who they are without judgment.”
To learn more about Communities In Schools of Eastern PA’s programs, click here.