SAN ANGELO, TX - Since the Open Arms Rape Crisis Center received a grant for their new building, they moved the LGBT+ Youth Group from monthly to weekly.
A member of the Youth Group, Vance Rogers, says, "I found out I was transgender about in fifth grade, and I'm in 8th grade now."
At just 13 years old, Vance felt as though he didn't have a place to be himself.
"Though my family accepts me, they don't call me by the pronouns I go by and the name I go by because it's hard for them to face that I'm not who I thought I was. I don't blame them for that, but it still hurts," says Rogers.
That is, until Vance met Lanie...
The LGBT+ Advocate for Open Arms, Lanie Rogers, says, "we wanted to have a space where they could just be."
He became a part of the Open Arms LGBT+ Youth Group.
"A lot of these youth that come in for the first time, they are really shy," says Lanie Rogers.
One of the ways Lanie gets the youth to open up is to always start the meetings with the highs...
"It always seems to be the high of my week and what makes me smile," says Vance Rogers.
...And lows of the week.
"Junior high is really tough. And we have a few that at 11 or when they hit puberty things were happening that is too much for them and we have a few that considered suicide," says Lanie Rogers.
The youth group has facilitators, who are a part of the l-g-b-t plus community to help show these kids that you can be successful in the community and you don't have to be LGBT+ to attend the group.
"We also have their allies, some just here because they are here to support them and stand up for them," says Lanie Rogers.
A concept that might seem trivial to us, is a group that helps these you feel accepted and educated on who they are.
"Everybody seems to hear this, but it definitely gets better," says Vance Rogers.
To become a part of the youth group is free of charge, you just need to get in contact with the Open Arms office, through social media or even by phone number.