New support group for LGBTQ students

Samantha Sadler (second right) at the launch of Spectrum
Samantha Sadler (second right) at the launch of Spectrum
Wednesday, 28 Mar 2012
Young people who have questions about their sexuality can now access a new support group.

Spectrum, a social and support group for young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning (LGBTQ) their sexuality, was launched at MidKent College last week.

The group, which offers one-to-one support and signposts into other health services, is the brainchild of the Students’ Union's LGBTQ officer Samantha Sadler and is targeted mainly at college students, but will also offer support to young people in Medway.

Samantha, 17, is a Level 3 Health and Social Care student from Gillingham and was spurred on to set up Spectrum after coming out two years ago.

“It was terrifying and I hated it,” she said. “It wasn’t really spoken about at school. The other pupils weren’t educated enough because it’s not really spoken about at school and the teachers didn’t know what to do about it either.

“I don’t want anybody else to go through what I did, which is one of the reasons why I’ve set Spectrum up.

“It’s hard enough trying to figure out your own emotions, let alone coming out and telling other people about them. Just knowing you’re not alone and that being gay is widely accepted is a huge help to young people.”

MidKent College youth worker Jo Carter said: “Although the college supports LGBTQ learners in both their studies and personal lives, the launch of Spectrum provides them with an alternative source of advice and support run by fellow students and focusing on their needs.

“Samantha has worked incredibly hard to set up the group and we at MidKent College are extremely proud of her.

“Her vision is that the group will provide a safe environment for students to explore, get support and advice with the potential for other local young people to access it. We are confident Spectrum will be a great success.”

Spectrum was set up with the support of NHS Kent and Medway’s Sexual Health Improvement Programme.

Medway’s director of public health Dr Alison Barnett said: “This project is a much-needed service for Medway’s young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, as well as offering support and advice to young people who may be questionning their sexuality.

“Peer support plays an important part in linking some of the most vulnerable young people in the community with the most appropriate services and I am pleased young people in Medway can now access Spectrum at MidKent College.”

The Sexual Health Improvement Programme provides a range of services to people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender including a one-to-one  service for young people who need additional support.

Work includes promoting inclusivity, supporting peer groups and providing education and training for practitioners and the public.


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