Demand Up for Rural Gay-Straight Alliance Groups?
CONCORD, N.C. - Bible study, Sunday service, children's worship. And now, an LGBT youth group. Trinity United Church of Christ is expanding its offerings in the Concord community, it says, because the demand for such a youth group is growing.
"It just seemed like a natural fit," says Paige Dula. The 41-year-old trangendered woman organized the group. She says more LGBT kids, even in more rural areas, are looking for support and so are their families. "I've seen a lot of supportive parents looking for help for their youth," she says.
Trinity United has been criticized before for its support of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. As for this support group, they don't expect any push back.
"We understand the message of Jesus to be one of love and understanding and acceptance and it's natural for us to provide a place where support can happen," says senior pastor Nathan King. He expects the group to gain traction. "I believe that as youth find out about it and know that there's a place where they can find support, then it will grow," he says.
The group will offer complete confidentiality, something youth struggle with in school-sponsored groups. Dula says, "They're essentially outing themselves by being a part of that group."
In Cabarrus County public schools, we are told there are no gay-straight alliance groups. In Rock Hill, zero. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, there are six. Gaston County schools did not reply to our request.
Dula says besides providing an emotional outlet, support groups help kids keep good grades and good behavior. She is confident this will do the same. "Yes, I've seen quite a few youth's lives turned around," she says.
Cabarrus Youth Out held its first meeting this past Sunday. The group meets on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month between 6:00 - 8:00 PM. Trinity United Church of Christ is located at 38 Church Street NE in Concord, NC.