Students from the LGBTQ2S+ community now have the chance to connect with each other amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the first time, B.C.’s Gay-Straight or Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) meet-ups will be held online or over the phone.

Minister of Education Rob Fleming says it’s important for kids to connect with friends in this tough time, especially those in the LGBTQ2S+ community.

“We know that LGBTQ2S+ kids report higher rates of feeling isolated and for some students, their school community was the only place where they could be their authentic selves.”

“That’s why now, more than ever, it’s so important for LGBTQ2S+ children and youth to stay connected and to know that they have safe, confidential outlets to virtually socialize with each other.”

Brad Beattie, executive director with the ARC Foundation and a lead partner in the creation of SOGI 123 says it has been a challenge to get the message out that those GSAs can meet virtually.

“We want to encourage students to reach out to their teacher or a trusted person at their school to find out ways they can join virtual GSA meet-ups, or even create a new GSA,” says Beattie.

“With the COVID-19 situation, we are working to re-focus our efforts and increase our outreach to ensure educators know about all the resources available for LGBTQ2S+ students, including mental health and other community-based support.”

Virtual GSAs can provide a comfortable, supportive forum for students to share information, discuss LGBTQ2S+ issues, movies or books, and activities like playing networked video games or creating stuck-at-home music playlists.

To learn more, visit the Government of British Columbia’s website.