Skanda launches LGBTQ+ support group for middle schoolers – Eagle News Online

CAZENOVIA — On October 5, The Haven at Skanda will launch its first LGBTQ+ youth support group for kids in grades 5-7.

Held on Tuesdays from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., the sessions will provide a safe and supportive space for children to be exactly who they are.

Located at 4000 Mosley Road in Cazenovia, Skanda is an all-volunteer non-profit organization dedicated to caring for rescued and endangered farm animals, and providing educational, support and prevention programs to the public.

According to Ellen Beckerman, Executive Director of Skanda, the youth support program was created in response to requests from some of the 10 and 11 year old campers who participated in Skanda’s summer program this year.

“[They] wanted a safe, supportive place where they could talk with other kids who are going through similar experiences of exploring their identity and dealing with pressure or bullying as they consider coming out,” Beckerman said. “They also expressed a desire to meet adult members of the LGBTQ+ community who can encourage them, support them, and show them that they can live the life they want to live, have good relationships, follow their professional interests, reach the highest levels of success and create the life they want for themselves.

Beckerman added that Skanda’s program is designed to meet both of these needs. Participants will have time to share their experiences with their peers and connect with adult facilitators and guest speakers from the LGBTQ+ community.

“Skanda has always been deeply committed to serving the needs of the community,” she said. “The organization was born out of responding to a community need, and we have always remained flexible and responsive. . . When children are self-aware and brave enough to claim who they are and ask for what they need, we want to be there to support and encourage them. We also know that there is a real lack of support for school-aged children who identify as LGBTQ+, so we felt this program was really urgently needed.

According to Beckerman, Skanda is dedicated to creating space for people and animals to be unique themselves and to celebrating the diversity that makes for a strong and vibrant community.

“The animals rescued from Skanda love each other without fear for each other’s uniqueness and differences, and they are an incredible example of how to love generously and revel in diversity,” she said. “This program is based on what the animals have shown us.”

As of September 23, the support group had six places available.

To register, contact Beckerman at [email protected] or 315-480-9480.

Virginia S. Braud