The group series will help youth members in the community thrive.By Royce Jones

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A local group that serves the LGBTQ community is launching a new support group.

According to new research from The Trevor Project, in the last 12 months, roughly 48 percent of LGBTQ youth reported self-harm, 46 percent reported being unable to receive the mental health counseling they wanted and about one in three have suffered from physical abuse in their lifetime.

The Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation in Pittsburgh has launched Affirm to teaching them how to love their true colors.

“For me, Affirm is really important language because we need to move past accept,” said Sarah Rosso, the executive director of the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation. “Affirm is showing up wildly in support of people, affirming them for exactly as they are, who they are, across all of the intersections of their identities.”

The new group series is for LGBTQ youth ages 14 to 21. It features teaching methods of dealing with bias and discrimination.

“It helps them build identity affirmation, to find support and connect with other peers,” said Rosso. “It helps them develop resiliency and some positive coping strategies.”

Everything is happening over Zoom. The weekly sessions will last six weeks, with each group consisting of 12 members.

“Youth all over western Pennsylvania from any corner, town or county can join us at any point,” Rosso said.

And if you do not have access to technology, the Hugh Lane Wellness Foundation will hook you up.

“We have a technology lending library. We’ll get young people tablets that have WiFi access so that there are no barriers for them to be able to participate,” Rosso said.

The first session launches next Thursday and the virtual seats are filling fast.

“Now more than ever, we really need to make sure we come together and tell youth that they are perfect just as they are,” Rosso said.

New groups will be rolled out each month. The resources will be around for the next three years.

The foundation is soon launching a similar program to help educate families and loved ones of LGBTQ youth.

Click here for more on Affirm.