Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta recently hosted a Zoom round-table to learn how LGBTQ+ organizations within the metro area are serving the youth and potentially incorporate their efforts within our organization. During the meet-up, local chapters for organizations like PFLAG and YMCA took the floor to introduce themselves and share their work. This was due to the efforts of Qnited, a think tank created to assist in LGBTQ+ related issues in BBBS. Loren Tamas, Systems Application Manager, and Natalie Mundy, Senior Director of Program Services, started Qnited in 2019.
Qnited asks the question, “How can the BBBS staff cultivate an open and affirming space for youth currently in our program, and how can we create space for a parent who isn’t open to their child coming out?” So how does an LGBTQ+ task force fit into BBBS’ mission? The matching process is a stringent one. There are many things to consider, like distance, occupation, and hobbies. Gender is not only a determining factor in how we match, but it can be one of the most important things that determine your experiences in life.
When a Little has divulged their identity, what can we do to help confirm and support? Anne Miller, mother of a transgender gay son and representing PFLAG, says having just one affirming adult in an LGBTQ+ youth’s life reduces their suicide likelihood dramatically. Even if a parent is not initially supportive, a Little coming out to their mentor speaks volumes of how strong their relationship can be. BBBS stays connected with different groups throughout the community. Sources to local organizations that connect parents to other parents of LGBTQ+ kids could be beneficial. Talking to peers with similar experiences can help create approachability to the situation.
By Mikayla Pryor