By Ed Kennedy
Bayside City Council has announced the establishment of a Same Sex and Gender Diverse (SSAGD) social/support group, with the first meeting to be held next week.
The group will provide social interaction and support services to young people aged 14-24, who identify as same sex attracted, sex gender diverse or who are questioning their sexuality.
Emily Buttriss, a Youth Worker with Bayside City Council indicated the group shall be easy going and inviting to those who wish to attend.
“There is no pressure for a young person to say or do anything they are not comfortable with when they attend meetings”, Ms Buttriss said.
“This is a group for people with similar interests and experiences and a great place to meet like-minded people.”
In particular, while participation is voluntary, Emily feels the conversational nature of the group shall be a core benefit to those who come along.
SSAGD shall “provide young people with the opportunity to come together to learn about the discuss topics that are of interest to them”, Ms Buttriss said.
Such conversations could be “about ‘coming out’, the transgender community, SSAGD affiliated youth organisations and so on.”
Emily also indicated while the group is positive and forward focused, it is underpinned by an ongoing awareness of the challenges people who are SSAGD can experience in their daily lives.
“Unfortunately there can often be a stigma attached to young people who identify as SSAGD, or anyone who is considered ‘different’”, Ms Buttriss said.
“I hope that through the creation of Bayside’s social/support group, and other similar groups across Melbourne, we can encourage respect and more informed discussion about same sex and gender diverse young people.”
Bayside Mayor Felicity Federico said in a statement the benefits of the SSAGD groups establishment shall be far reaching.
“By increasing the confidence and personal growth of young people across Bayside, we encourage positive mental health across our community”, Cr Federico said.
“The group provides a safe space for young people to come together and discuss issues relevant to them in a supportive and inclusive environment”, and “Council is pleased to be able to offer this new service to young people across Bayside.”
Alongside offering guest speakers from time to time who are familiar with these challenges, documentaries and films shall also feature at the meetings.
As well as this, at least one Bayside City Council Youth Worker shall be in attendance and available to offer support and guidance to any attendees who may seek it.