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BRATTLEBORO — Have questions about any of the LGBTQ+ letters? Confused about the differences between gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression? Want to better understand your teenager’s world?

The Boys & Girls Club of Brattleboro, New England Center for Circus Arts, and the New England Youth Theater are joining forces to host a panel discussion for parents, caregivers, educators, and youth 12 and older to better understand and support LGBTQ+ youth in the community. The event will take place on Thursday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Boys & Girls Club on Flat Street as a celebration of National Coming Out Day.

National Coming Out Day began in 1988 and is observed annually to celebrate and raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community and civil rights movement. In the beginning, the day was marked by private and public people coming out, often in the media, to raise awareness and let the mainstream know that everyone knows at least one person who identifies as LGBTQ+. While coming out has become easier since 1988, it remains a struggle for many — impacting young people the most.

In 2018, a Human Rights Campaign survey of youth 13-18 found that:

Only 24 percent of LGBTQ youth can “definitely” be themselves as an LGBTQ person at home; 67 percent of LGBTQ youth hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ people; 58 percent trans and gender expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity; 73 percent of LGBTQ youth have experienced verbal threats because of their actual or perceived LGBTQ identity; and only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms — and just 5 percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.

The goal of this forum is to provide an open, frank, safe, and welcoming space for questions. The panelists include LGBTQ youth and adults and parents of LGBTQ children. The forum is moderated by Jenna Struble, NECCA executive director and nationally recognized diversity, equity and inclusion educator.

Drop-ins welcome but pre-registration is preferred. Masks required and capacity will be limited to 30 participants. Registration available at