Residents of Heber City, Utah, cannot see the iridescent banner on the side of their Main Street during the Pride Month, as they have in previous years, but will soon find an LGBTQ center to call on their own.
Inspired by headlines about a controversial ordinance that could prevent advocates from putting the Pride banner on the city’s Lamppost during the Pride Month in June, LGBTQ nonprofit Enrol announced it would establish an LGBTQS resource center in the city of Heber . Anchorl Heber, which would be just blocks from Public High School, would take the shape of a newly constructed house with a large gathering area, medical room, a music room and an art room.
“The house is, of course, a safe place; it feels like a home, looks like a home, so that these individuals have a place to come every day and be loved and accepted, maybe when they are at home Do not feel at a school or church or even your home, ”executive executive director Stephanie Larsen said.
Since 2019, the rainbow flag scene on the Heber City Lamppost during June has ignited a debate in the small, predominantly Mormon city, with some conservative residents viewing the banner as a city-sanctioned “political” speech . In response to the backlash, the City Council passed an ordinance in August prohibiting “political” banners and required that all banners on the city’s Lamppost sponsor from the city, Wasatch County, or the Heber Valley Chamber of Commerce meet. Due to debate within the community over whether the Pride banners are “political”, it is unclear whether city officials will approve them this year.
“We call the flag political, ‘Yet behind every flag there is a person who, I believe, is sending a message of acceptance and love to those who are in the LGBTQ community,” Said Larsen, whose organization has built three other cities in Utah with LGBTQ community centers.
While supporters argue that the ordinance is necessary to prevent potential hate groups from displaying their own banners, LGBTQ advocates claim that the ordinance to ban the rainbow flag from appearing publicly in the city turned around a thin. There is an attempt. A similar controversy erupted over the Pride banner in other cities, including Reading, Pennsylvania, last year; Woonsoet, Rhode Island; Foster City, California; And Minot, North Dakota.
Heber City is far from the only community in Utah, where pride flags have sparked controversy. For the past two years, Project Rainbow, a Salt Lake City-based nonprofit, has rented rainbow flags to people all over Utah for $ 14 to place them at stake in their yard during the city’s Pride Festival. While the group birthed around 1,400 rented flags in 2019 and more than doubled that number in 2020, group founder Lucas Horns said many of the flags were stolen or vandalized. Horns estimated that 10 percent of the group’s flags across the state were stolen or vandalized last year, and added that the organization also accused people of “forcing their beliefs on communities” on social media Applied backlash.
Heber City resident Alison Phillips Bellenp, 47, is a lesbian, a suicide bomber and a former Mormon. She raised money to put a rainbow banner on the city’s Lamppost in 2019 and 2020 to show support for LGBTQ youth and help curb the suicide rate of young people in Utah, where the youth suicide rate tripled in 2017. was. So exciting “that the encounter, which provides suicide prevention services for queued youth, will open a center in the city of Heber.
“I think it’s going to create a place that doesn’t exist,” she said. “This is going to be very important because we support [LGBTQ] The youth try to reduce the negative mental health effects of that population and there is a growing tendency towards suicide in that population. “
According to a 2015 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 42 percent of gay, lesbian, and bisexual students attempted suicide in 2015, compared to about 18 percent of straight students.
More than $ 350,000 has been raised for the construction of the resource center, which is expected to open in the fall. In addition to medical and suicide prevention services, the center will host “friendship circles” for LGBTQ youth and also provide assistance to parents who need help understanding and accepting their LGBTQ children, Larsen said.
Mayor Kellen Potter, the mother of two LGBTQ teenagers, said she is “used to” opening an encounter center in the city, where she said 12 percent of high school students have LGBTQ.
“I just think of myself, you know, 10 years ago, and the years I struggled to talk to someone and how it would never happen to anyone again,” Potter said. “I think it’s just so incredible. I couldn’t be happier.”
In addition to being a safe place for LGBTQ youth and their families, EnerSecl will strive to educate the wider community about its LGBTQ neighbors.
“Enkrigal’s vision is to bring family and community together and help LGBTQ individuals,” she said. “We really hope that by going to Haber we can help bring the community together through meaningful conversations and getting people to know each other. I think that’s when change happens.”
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