On Saturday, at the United Church of Christ in Naples, a local group held the first-ever youth pride conference. 40 to 50 students from southwest Florida attended.
The event was aimed at empowering and educating LGBTQ + children aged 12 to 18 on issues such as mental health and religion, but not everyone was happy with this.
“We are protesting against something because we believe that people are in danger,” Fred said during the protest. Protesters began to appear before the event.
“We can look like we are against them. But the reality is that we are for them and we are scared. We are worried about them. We are afraid for them, we try to get as many out of them as possible because we love them, ”says Fred.
Naples police were on the scene to prevent protesters from the church. Daniel Shaw, who was in charge of the event, told WINK News that the atmosphere inside was amazing.
“I’ve seen more smiles from these students than I’ve seen in a really long time,” Shaw says. “They feel safe, they feel welcomed, they feel included. And they talk about so many different things that they can’t talk to other people about, and they just really study some of the problems they face with people who are safe and polite. ”
Shaw said it’s important to provide a space where kids get a chance to just be themselves.
“I can’t tell you how many times this morning, I almost burst into tears of joy to see, to see these students and how they can finally become themselves. And that’s why we do it, ”Shaw says.
One of the demonstrators said her main concern was her parents’ consent to attend the event, but organizers told WINK News that they required the consent and refusal of medicine from all participants. The event ended at 3pm and was organized by GLSEN County Collier, meaning Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network.