Anne Hart, from Southern Mamas blog, wrote a great piece for the Savannah Morning News about a group of young people who are reaching out to each other for support.
Stand Out Youth offers fellowship and resources to LGBT youth between the ages of 16 and 23. Each week, young men and women from southeast Georgia and the South Carolina Lowcountry gather to talk about coming out, family and religion under the guidance of adult volunteers. Volunteer staff must undergo a background check, drug screening, and training.
“Not only are the members tired of being called “faggot,” “queer” and “dyke” on a regular basis. They’re also weary of such harassment being accepted by those of us in the mainstream straight community.
“Listening to their stories told in sometimes shaking voices, often on the verge of tears, would elicit compassion from even the most homophobic person.
“Anyone who thinks sexual orientation is a matter of mere personal choice, not a matter of genetics, just needs to hear one Stand Out Youth teen recount how he struggled for years before accepting he was gay.”
Many Stand Out Youth members are victims of bashing – while teachers looked the other way. Some kids say administrators suggested they encouraged the taunting by their own actions.
Hart points out that many homophobes hide behind a religious or cultural tradition that says homosexuality is wrong. And, unfortunately this group of people believe and hope that gay people can find their way back to heterosexuality.
Anne refers to herself as a work-at-home mom, who freelances for various publications – including writing a regular weekly column in the Sunday Accent section of the Savannah Morning News.
Stand Out Youth has launched a billboard campaign. Throughout this month and next, several billboards across Savannah will promote awareness and provide Stand Out Youth contact information.