The People of Spectrum

Sophie Wojciechowski, Senior Editor

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The Cuba Public Library has many clubs and groups set aside for teenagers to get together and socialize over common interests. Recently, they’ve added a new club in which LGBTQ+ teenagers can come in and receive support. Spectrum takes place every third Monday of the month at 6:30 in the community room, but due to holidays, the months of January and February have changed dates. In January, the meeting will be on Jan. 29th, and in February the meeting will be on Feb. 12th. As this group is new, there has only been two meetings as of today. But, from those two meetings, members of the group and the directors of the group feel that it is helping those who have attended.

Tina Dalton, the youth librarian, first got the idea for Spectrum from the Olean Public Library. Olean themselves started up a similar club and had some teenagers from Allegany County come, so Cuba has a need for this as well. However, Tina also got the idea because of her own personal reasons. Her sister is a member of the LGBT+ community and was not supported much when she first came out, so Tina saw from a younger age the hardships LGBT+ people go through. She wanted to “provide a safe, supportive space” for teenagers who may not be supported at home. However, she was unsure if this was her place as a straight person. So, she took her case to the teen advisory board and saw that it was important for them to create safe places like that and show that they are accepting of people within the LGBT+ community.

Teens who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or trans often face challenges that straight people sometimes don’t see. According to the CDC, LGBT teens contemplate suicide almost three times more than heterosexual teens. LGBT teens are subjected to violence, like bullying, harassment, and physical or sexual assault, at an average rate of 10%-28%. Exposure to this violence can drastically increase depression, suicide rates, and a decrease in educational accomplishment. Schools can do a lot to help LGBT youth feel comfortable and safe, such as showing LGBT teens that there are safe spaces among teachers and administration and showing students that bullying under any circumstances is prohibited. Having Spectrum be at the library can show LGBT youth that they are accepted by their community and that they are not alone, either. While the group is fairly new, the members of the group see potential for this club to help them feel more accepted within the community. Students who didn’t have a supportive family now have one at the library.

The Spectrum group at the library has the purpose to help LGBT+ youth feel accepted in their community. Tina saw and realized that there was a need for a group to help those LGBT+ youth that could be struggling throughout their teenage years.

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