Big Brothers Big Sisters Expands LGBTQ Reach in South Jersey

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CHERRY HILL, N.J. -

A local chapter of a nationwide nonprofit is expanding its reach with a new program and they need help to get things off the ground.

For decades, officials with Big Brothers Big Sisters have worked to mentor children of all ages across the country and now the local chapter, Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region, is taking a step further by developing a new LGBTQ program for teens at area high schools.

“Child safety is our guiding principle in everything that we do and when you look at LGBTQ youth, the research is pretty profound that LGBTQ youth are considered an at-risk population," said Clinton Drees, program and resource manager for Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region.

"So, we want to interrupt that and provide them with a sense of safety and community in their schools to help them through a turbulent time that is puberty for all of us.” 

So, they’re looking for responsible, caring adults that are at least 28 years old to help mentor these teens.

“We have five pilot sites that we’re working on finalizing," said Drees, "but the schools and especially the faculty advisors are really excited to get some extra hands, extra ears, extra eyes in the room.”

That’s just year one. They hope to expand the program to all of their schools in year two.

The idea is that the mentors will go into high schools in the area to meet with faculty-run Gender Sexuality Alliances (GSAs) about once a week to discuss a variety of topics.

“It might be simply group conversation, it might be doing some research on LGBTQ history, [or] maybe looking at some current events and processing as a group,” said Drees.

The program kicks off this upcoming school year and those interested in registering as an LGBTQ mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters Independence Region can check out the website Independencebigs.org for more information on how you can help South Jersey students.

If you are interested in LGBTQ mentor program please contact Clinton Drees at CDrees@independencebigs.org.

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