The Beacon Bit: A Youth Perspective - Dec 2015

BeaconYouthGroupHello and welcome to the Beacon Bit! This is our first official column in Liberty Press (or elsewhere) and we are very excited to have this opportunity. Beacon Youth Group was founded several years ago in 2011. Since its formation, it underwent many changes and eventually, after a brief hiatus, was relaunched in March of this year.

    We provide a welcoming environment for queer youth ages 12-20 to engage in socialization, education, exploration, and activism. To expand on that, we create a safe space for LGBTQ teens to express themselves and make friends with others who have similar experiences, as well as explore their own identities; we give lessons on topics ranging from sex education to different identities to LGBTQ history; and we provide ways for our kids to be active in the community, by means such as protests, rallies, and service opportunities.

    Beacon has a fairly large attendance, typically ranging from 10-20 kids most meetings. We hold meetings every Monday (barring extenuating circumstances) at 5:30pm at one of two locations. The first is Central Congregational Church at 1248 SW Buchanan St. in Topeka, where we meet the first, fourth, and fifth Mondays of every month. The second is the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka at 4775 SW 21st St., where we meet the second and third Mondays of every month. You do not have to live in Topeka to attend. If you would like to attend a meeting and want to make sure of our location and meeting time, we post that information on our Facebook page before each meeting. You can find it at facebook.com/beaconks.

    Among those who regularly attend meetings, we have a broad range of identities and orientations. We have a number of trans members, both FTM/MTF and non-binary. We have kids who are on the asexual spectrum, kids who are on the aromantic spectrum, kids who are pansexual, kids who are bisexual, kids who are gay/lesbian, and kids who are straight. Don’t be intimidated by the big range of queer identities; straight cis kids are welcome too!

    In Beacon, every voice is welcome. We want to hear your opinions, your struggles, your experiences, your story. That being said, homophobia, transphobia, racism, religious intolerance, and any other conceivable form of bigotry or hate speech will not be tolerated in Beacon. Bullying of any kind is completely against our mission and values and any member who engages in such conduct will be asked to leave and will be barred from any future interaction or participation. Safety and emotional health are very important to us and we will not allow that to be compromised for any reason.

    In future columns, which will be written by various members of the group, we will be discussing current events, different identities, and what it’s like to be a queer teen in today’s world in general. If there is a topic you’d like us to write about, if you want more information about our group, or even if you just want to say hi, you can e-mail us at beacontopeka@gmail.com. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next month! l

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Marcia McCoy, Ph.D.