FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 7, 2006
Contact: Jeremy McLeod
COALITION OF LOCAL CHURCHES AND COMMUNITY GROUPS ANNOUNCES PROJECT TO SUPPORT GLBTQI YOUTH
(April 7, 2006) A coalition of churches and community groups across the outlying suburban counties of Northern Virginia announced today that they are developing a program to support area gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and allied youth.
The project, Rainbow CafÃ©, is intended to serve youth in the counties of Loudoun, Prince William, Western Fairfax, Fauquier, Culpeper and beyond. Youth resources based in Washington DC and closer in suburbs are too inaccessible to be helpful, organizers said.
“Youth in the outlying suburbs have uneven support for Gay/Straight Alliances in their schools,” said Rev. Jeremy McLeod, pastor of Wellspring United Church of Christ in Centreville, and one of the organizers. “As religious and community leaders we felt it incumbent upon us to help create the community-based support network that these kids need, and are in some cases being denied.”
In part, the project is in response to ongoing legislative efforts to deny sexual minority youth the ability to organize school clubs. “Rather than just continuing to struggle with the school system, we thought it was more important to get out there and do something to help empower the kids directly,” said organizer and Director of Youth Support for Equality Loudoun Tim Butka. “The need is real and immediate. The youth who are trying to start Gay/Straight Alliances in their schools are doing it because they need a safe place – right now – to be who they are.”
An initial gathering of youth and their families is planned for 3 – 6:00 pm, Saturday, April 29 at Bull Run Unitarian Universalists in Manassas (9350 Church St). Participants will take part in a “World Café” style structured conversation to identify the programs and resources that are needed, and to begin planning a NoVA “Youth Convocation” scheduled for October, 2006 to coincide with National Coming Out Day.
The gathering will be followed by a youth social event organized by Manassas area Gay/Straight Alliances.