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‘LGBTQ+ Alphabet Soup: A Community Conversation’ will discuss the world of today’s youth

BRATTLEBORO—Have questions about any of the LGBTQ+ letters? Confused about the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression? Want to better understand your teenager’s world?

The Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, New England Center for Circus Arts, and the New England Youth Theatre will host a panel discussion for parents, caregivers, educators, and youth age 12 and older to better understand and support LGBTQ+ youth in our community.

The event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 14, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., at the Boys & Girls Club on Flat Street as a belated celebration of National Coming Out Day, which took place Oct. 11.

The goal of this forum, organizers said, “is to provide an open, frank, safe, and welcoming space for questions.”

National Coming Out Day began in 1988 and is observed annually to celebrate and raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and civil rights movement.

In the beginning, the day was marked by people coming out, whether privately or publicly (and, in the case of the latter, often in the media), to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who identifies as LGBTQ+.

While coming out has become easier since 1988, it remains a struggle for many, affecting young people the most. In 2018, a Human Rights Campaign survey of youth ages 13 to 18 found that:

• 24 percent of LGBTQ youth said they could “definitely” be themselves as an LGBTQ person at home.

• 67 percent of LGBTQ youth said they hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ people.

• 58 percent of trans and gender-expansive youth said they could never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity.

• 73 percent of LGBTQ youth have experienced verbal threats because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ identity.

• 26 percent said they always feel safe in their school classrooms.

• 5 percent said all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.

The panelists include LGBTQ youth and adults and parents of LGBTQ children.

The forum will be moderated by Jenna Struble, NECCA executive director and nationally recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion educator.

Drop-ins are welcome, but registration at is preferred.

Masks will be required, and capacity will be limited to 30 participants.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #634 (Wednesday, October 13, 2021). This story appeared on page C3.

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