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catching up with building hope

Summit County Allies for the LGBTQ+ Community 

So far this year a record-breaking number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced across the United States. The proposed bills have largely targeted the transgender community and effects certain rights including receiving gender-affirming health care, playing sports, and using bathrooms that coincide with their gender identity. The “Don’t Say Gay Bill” restricts classroom discussions around gender identity and sexual orientation for kids aged kindergarten through third grade. 

According to the Trevor Project, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for the younger generation aged 10-24. LGBTQ+ teens are at a substantially higher risk, around four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. That’s an estimated 1.8 million youth that actively consider it each year. Most of these attempts are not because of their sexual orientation, but because of the mistreatment and stigmatization they feel from society. 

Here at Building Hope we believe that one suicide in our community is too many. While not all suicides are preventable, most are. Improving our system and offering access to everyone equally is a matter of life and death for many individuals. While Colorado remains active in their support of the LGBTQ+ community, how can we show our own support as allies in Summit County this June for Pride Month? 

Cultivate your own research  One suggestion includes doing your own research if you have questions. Members of the LGBTQ+ community may not want to explain what they are going through- especially if they are still in the process of figuring things out themselves. Be a good listener and open-minded to your friends, peers, coworkers and family members. You never know who may choose to confide in you. Practice understanding, inclusion, and kindness if an acquaintance opens up to you and is ready to talk. Offer resources from a local organization like Building Hope. 

Encourage transformations at work  Anyone, whatever one’s sexual orientation, can proudly wave or hang a rainbow flag in support to the LGBTQ+ community. Pride Month is a great opportunity to encourage inclusion and diversity with your employees while representing your company as an ally for your customers. Including pronouns with your email signature demonstrates the ability and openness to address a colleague by their requested pronoun. Updating your discrimination and diversity policy or offering an inclusion workshop in the office are other ways to be a good ally at work for Pride Month. 

Be supportive and involved  There are various ways to be an accessory to the LGBTQ+ community during Pride Month. Donating or volunteering to an organization like the Trevor Project or One-Colorado can make a big impact. Showing social-media support in a supportive, respectable manner also demonstrates your willingness to be an ally. Sharing articles, changing your profile photo, or adding a flag to your personal or company page are small gestures that might offer someone a safe place to reach out. Participate in a local event like the Summit Pride March that begins at 11 a.m. Sunday, June 26, at 5th and Main in Frisco. Grab your most colorful outfits and bring your friends (and dogs!). Last year the event not only showed the incredible support from the Summit County community, but also passed along multiple powerful stories and journeys from the local LGBTQ+ community. 
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One of the wonderful attributes of Summit County is the assortment of individuals that call this excellent community home. More often than not a shared love for the outdoors and small- neighborhood feeling encourages transplants from across the country to gather here and call Summit County home. It is our mission at Building Hope to create a more coordinated, effective, and responsive mental-health system. We promote emotional health that improves access to care and support to everyone in Summit County- no matter your sexual orientation or how you identify. 

Recently staff of Building Hope, alongside 20 local mental health providers, participated in the  “Envision:You LGBTQ+ specialization training.” Attendees learned how to support the LGBTQ+ community in Colorado who are living with substance-use and mental-health disorders. Envision:You provides education, training, and resources in the hopes of expanding the availability of culturally affirming treatment services.

Building Hope is also holding a LBGTQ+ focus group on Monday, June 20th from 6:30pm-8:00pm at the Senior Center in Frisco. We are interested in hearing from the community and learning more ways we can best serve this group in Summit County. Participants will receive a $50 gift card for attending, and dinner will be served. Please reach out to laura@buildinghopesummit.org for registration information and more details.

With the continued and constant changes in policies being proposed and signed in different areas of the country it can often feel overwhelming and alarming. It’s important to remember to focus on the things you can control (be a good listener, stay open-minded to various viewpoints, and support everyone in your community). It is also crucial to remain active as you stay up to date with cultural changes in the LGBTQ+ community. Be sure to vote on relevant local, statewide, and national issues that could impact this vulnerable population. 

This June we are hopeful that our local LGBTQ+ population feels the love and backing from the Summit County community in whatever aspect you feel comfortable participating in. Perhaps you are not ready to join forces in your rainbow gear for the Pride walk, but are open to researching information about how these new bills and laws are affecting different individuals. Here at Building Hope we encourage everyone to practice kindness, inclusion, and understanding to our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and peers. We are all battling different issues. A helping hand or open heart goes a long way, especially in our close, tight-knit community.

Article by Alyse Piburn, special projects writer for Building Hope Summit County. If you have a story to share, reach out to her at alyse@buildinghopesummit.org.
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