‘Break the isolation’ at LGBT youth and families conference

The Links and Alliances event address gender identity, bullying and where to find help.

EVERETT — A daylong conference to help lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth and their families find support and resources is scheduled Saturday at Everett Community College.

The annual Links and Alliances conference is now in its 21st year.

“Part of the goal is to break the isolation, give them a sense there are other people like them and they’re not alone,” said Brenda Newell, a Monroe counselor and the conference coordinator.

Topics include gender identities, how to be resilient to bullying, a session for parents, educators and others on understanding gender, and an HIV/STD workshop.

The conference is free to youth 14 to 20. The charge for adults is $25, which includes a lunch and dinner. Limited adult scholarships are available.

“We’re really hoping to equip kids, parents and community members on how to help youth gain a positive self-image and promote positive role models,” said Liza Patchen-Short, the children’s mental health liaison for Snohomish County Human Services.

“There’s so many kids who need the support and there’s not a lot of resources,” she said. “This is the place to come.”

Tenth-grade youth who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported they were three times more likely than their straight peers to consider suicide, to plan how to end their lives or to attempt suicide, according to the 2016 Healthy Youth survey of Snohomish County students.

Slightly more than 27 percent of 10th-grade teens who identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual reported attempting suicide. That compares to 8.1 percent of students who identified as straight indicating they had attempted suicide, according to the survey.

With the annual conference two decades old, teens are asked each year if there’s still a need for the conference.

“There’s a resounding ‘yes,’ the need is still there,” Newell said.

“We continue to feel like it’s a critical resource for youth, parents and providers to continue to get information, and for LGBT youth to know they have a community,” she said.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; salyer@heraldnet.com.

Conference

The Links and Alliances conference is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 14 at Everett Community College’s Henry M. Jackson Conference Center, 2000 Tower St. There’s no charge for youth ages 14-20. The charge for adults is $25. Limited adult scholarships are available. Lunch and dinner are provided. Registration information is at bit.ly/2yXF3wr.

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