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"I struggled when I realized I was gay because I never had anyone to talk to. I realized there was a huge disconnect in the LGBTQ youth community. I felt isolated, and was suicidal. I questioned what could have prevented my suicide attempt, and I realized that community was the answer."
OUT IN SA
“LGBT youth need LGBT friends. Straight allies are important, but when your very identity is the subject of controversy in America, or when your own family rejects you, you need a support network of friends who truly understand what you’re experiencing. That’s why I created SanghaLink,” she explains.
SanghaLink integrates local gay/straight alliances to help students make meaningful relationships with other nearby LGBQIA students, without the pressures of coming out. In the future, SanghaLink also plans to network with already existing groups like OutYouth for deeper reach.
SAN MARCOS RECORD
One of Austin’s newest non-profits, SanghaLink, is tackling the escalating issue of isolation, depression and suicide amongst teen LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning) populations through an online community platform. In the powerful wake of the recent suicide of Leelah Alcorn, a teen who was grappling with her gender and sexuality, LBGTQ activist Anna Weingart plans to integrate the platform in local high schools throughout the nation and urges others to heed Alcorn’s call.
High school is a difficult time for a lot of young people, and LGBTQ youth especially. It can be easy to feel isolated or alone, like there is no one else having the same experiences. Even in schools with GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) programs, there can be issues of LGBTQ youth not feeling safe enough to be out publically, or the GSA program being so populated with allies LGBTQ youth still paradoxically feel alone. But what if there was a social media network targeted specifically towards LGBTQ high school youth? Anna Weingart, a current Psychology major at UT, is the founder of just such a resource: SanghaLink.
“Sadly, we cannot go back in time and prevent Leelah Alcorn’s death, but we can honor her wish to change our society and our schools, which was her plea to give her death meaning,” Weingart said. “The word ‘Sangha’ is Sanskrit for community. An educated, proactive community can prevent so many of the issues that LGBTQ teens experience – even suicide.”
My Harlingen News
Weingart founded SanghaLink in 2014 to address the critical and growing need for support and community within the LGBTQ teen population. Currently, suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24 and LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.