Introducing “Megan’s Rainbow” — a free group for LGBTQ teens

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Megan’s Rainbow: An LGBTQ Group for Teens
The mission of Megan’s Rainbow is to provide a safe space for LGBTQ teens to interact with peers, share coping skills, and enhance their understanding of self and others. Our goal is to foster resiliency and healthy choices within the individual while promoting unity within our community.

This is a free group that meets at Brentwood Christian Church for teens 14-17 years-old. Participants must have parent/guardian permission.

When: 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month
Time: 7:30-9:00 p.m.

Goals
Through a variety of therapeutic and expressive arts activities, group participants are offered an opportunity to do the following:

  • develop healthy coping mechanisms
  • develop interpersonal and group process skills
  • develop effective communication skills
  • develop and express thoughts and feelings through writing and journaling
  • develop an awareness and gain insights into interactions between self and others
  • develop improved self-awareness and self-acceptance

Reasons for the overwhelming need for LGBTQ groups:

  • 42% of LGBTQ people in the U.S. report living in an unwelcoming environment
  • 80% of gay and lesbian youth report severe social isolation
  • 84% of LGBTQ youth report sexual harassment at school based on their gender identity and/or social location
  • LGBTQ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression
  • Six in 10 LGBTQ students report feeling unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation
  • 25-40% of the youth who become homeless each year are LGBTQ
  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in the LGBTQ community in the 10-24 age group
  • LGBTQ youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide, experience suicidal thoughts or engage in self-harm
  • Between 38 and 65% of transgender individuals experience suicidal ideation
  • The LGBTQ community reports a higher rate of drugs, alcohol, and tobacco use

(Sources: NAMI, DoSomething.org, Project Q, U.S. Census Data 2015)

Leaders: Brian Vega (LPC) and Margaret Skidmore (LPC)
Brian Vega is a Licensed Professional Counselor who is certified in Civil and Family Mediation. He has been in instructor in the graduate counseling program at Missouri State University, a high school counselor, a middle school counselor, and has facilitated groups for transgender individuals, parents, the juvenile system, grief, and LGBT issues. He has worked for the Springfield Public Schools system for 17 years, and has practiced private practice therapy at Counseling Solutions for over 10 years. In that time, he has had extensive experience working with the LGBTQ community of the Ozarks.

Margaret Skidmore is a Licensed Professional Counselor who specializes in adolescents and has had extensive experience working with the LGBTQ community. She is the counselor at Study High School (formerly Bailey Alternative High School), where she has worked with youth for 21 years. In addition to her work with individual students at Study, she also facilitates teen parenting groups, relationships groups, life groups, and was the Group Coordinator at Lost & Found for six years. Margaret has been in private practice at Counseling Solutions, LLC for 7 years, providing therapy for individuals, couples, and families.

Megan’s Story
Megan Jennifer Cramer (born 1966) was a poet, writer, attorney, and social activist. She graduated from Parkview High School and as an undergraduate at the University of Missouri at Kansas City helped found the existing chapter of the UMKC Lesbian and Gay Student Group over 20 years ago. She subsequently earned a Juris Doctor at the UMKC School of Law.

Megan died on February 19, 2013 in a natural gas explosion that destroyed J.J.’s, a landmark eatery just off the Plaza in Kansas City, MO. Megan’s family is sponsoring this free group at Brentwood Christian Church in loving memory of her in order to provide support and encouragement to LGBTQ teens in Megan’s hometown of Springfield.

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