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Teenagers in North Haven have a safe place they can go

Teenagers throughout North Haven have a safe place they can go and get to know other young people with similar experiences.

"Teen Nights give people in the queer community a space to interact with others who share similar experiences and interests," said Maya, who has participated in Teen Nights. "It gives us chances to meet new people who might have the same ideas about the LGBTQIA+ community. It gives us a chance to spend time with others that we may not see in school and do the same, fun activity. Personally, I have benefited from Teen Nights by doing new things with my friends and getting closer with others."

Gabbie said she has also benefited from Teen Nights.

"They have given me an opportunity to feel comfortable and express myself freely with my peers," she said. "I’ve made lots of friends from teen nights."

You can help expand the opportunities that Teen Nights offer with a contribution this Giving Tuesday!

She said the activity nights give teens who are looking to develop new friendships the space to do so — particularly those who may feel bullied or isolated.

"These evenings support me and my peers because it gives us an opportunity to feel safe and to feel like we can have a fun time without judgement," Gabbie said. "A really important aspect of being a teenager is making sure you have support, and some kids have trouble navigating their social lives on their own. These nights will give teens a little push in the right direction. I know for me personally, my best friend was someone I met at one of the Teen Nights."

Teen Nights often start off with a fun craft or shared activity before moving into some chill time, often with a movie or music playing in the background so the teens can play cards or board games.

"In order to have these nights, we need support from others to put them on," Maya said. "They can help our mental health by having the capability to express our pride and true selves. We need support to be allowed to put them on, along with the funding to participate in these enjoyable programs."

Any contribution would help ensure the growth and continued success of Teen Nights for young people throughout our community.

"There are many stigmas and lots of negative energy around the LGBTQIA+ community in North Haven," Maya said. "People don’t fully understand us or support us, and they show their disrespect in many ways. Many people in this community experience hate and resentment toward not just themselves but other people like them. With many laws currently being passed in our country not in support of the queer community, it can lower people’s self-esteem along with their hope. It’s not a lie when people say gender-affirming care saves lives. Lots of young, transgender individuals feel unsafe or unhappy for simply being who they are and trying to exist in peace. Studies say more than half of trans or non-binary youth have attempted suicide at some point in their lifetime. This is an alarming rate and needs to be addressed. Thankfully in North Haven, we receive more support rather than hate, but that doesn’t mean that there’s none of it. It is so important to be an ally and demonstrate your commitment of being a strong supporter of us. Simply making a kind gesture to someone in the LGBTQIA+ community can mean the world to someone. Your support can save lives. It is extremely important to not show hate toward these ideas and to be an ally of the queer community."

Teen Nights offer a safe space for teens looking for a place to be able to go and be themselves.

"My very favorite part about them is making friends," said Gabbie. "I love being social but sometimes it’s hard being in such a big high school. Teen Nights have this environment that is positive and encouraging and makes me feel more comfortable, therefore giving me the opportunity to comfortably talk to more people."

"I think that a very large percentage of queer and trans teenagers struggle a lot with making friends and feeling comfortable in their environment, since you never really know if it’s safe to be yourself," she said. "It goes hand in hand because it gives queer and trans teenagers a safe space, and, according to the Trevor Project, when teens (especially LGBTQ+ teenagers) are accepted by their peers, the odds of suicide drops by 33 percent. Teen Nights give teens and queer teens the opportunity to feel supported, which is so essential because a lot of the time we don’t feel that way."

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