Members of the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, questioning (LGBTIQ) community now have access to free group counseling services thanks to a provincial grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation.
The $70,000 grant seeks to provide a series of specialized support groups for LGBTIQ people who need help with coming out to their family and friends, discrimination, depression, anxiety, and other issues. The program is called OK2BME and will be offered free for one year through Family Service Windsor-Essex County, the Windsor Family Health Team and Windsor Pride.
Windsor Pride executive director Neil Mens said his organization has been trying to address gaps in counseling services for LGBTIQ people but lacked financial and resource support until now. “Many people in our community live with a secret about who they are,” he said. “It produces a lot of stress and impacts people’s health.”
OK2BME was first introduced in Kitchener for gay, lesbian and transgender youth. The Windsor offshoot adopted the same logo and branding, but the counseling there is mostly geared toward adults, although there is a group for teens who are just coming out.
There will be about 15 different counseling groups offered, focusing on everything from exploring attraction to the same sex, relationships and sexual health to dealing with stereotypes, labels and identity issues.
Intersex is a term for a condition in which someone is born with sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female.
If you are in the area or know someone who could use this information, click here or call the Community Counseling Alliance at 519-254-3426.