New LGBTQ youth group planned in Saranac Lake

The Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance is partnering with the Saranac Lake Youth Center to create a safe space and environment for LGBTQ youth, family members and allies. (Enterprise photo — Kevin Shea)

SARANAC LAKE — A partnership between the Adirondack North Country Gender Alliance and the Saranac Lake Youth Center will aim to bring a safe space for LGBTQ youth.

Kelly Metzgar, executive director for ANCGA, said the partnership will feature several events throughout the year that will aim to include those who have historically been marginalized and ostracized from society. It will be available to those in middle school and high school. Metzgar said that she noticed how important something like this was when she and several others in the village attended the funeral of a transgender youth who had committed suicide.

Aleacia Landon, director of SLYC, wrote in an email to the Enterprise that the new group would provide a safe space and environment for LGBTQ youth and promote acceptance and tolerance for all individuals.

Metzger said that ANCGA had held an LGBTQ youth group at the youth center previously, and although the participation had petered out, she believed that something similar could be held there again.

The new program will feature events and a curriculum set up by SUNY Plattsburgh students who had reached out to ANCGA for a project that resulted in the creation of the curriculum. Metzgar hopes the program brings awareness of LGBTQ people in the North Country.

“We can’t have people commit suicide by non-acceptance,” Metzgar said.

The program will include youth meeting twice a month and other programs held throughout the year. What those are will vary, according to Metzgar. It could include festive events such as an LGBTQ prom or informational sessions such as showing a documentary on the Stonewall Riots, a screening of which will take place on June 26 in the Saranac Lake Free Library.

ANCGA was started a few years ago by Metzgar, a trans woman from Saranac Lake, who is also a founding board member and treasurer of Gender Equality New York. She hopes to build ANCGA into a program that helps those in Franklin, Essex and Clinton counties.