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'You're Not Alone': Salem LGBTQ Center Helps Teens Cope With Stresses Of Pandemic

SALEM (CBS) – Fifteen-year-old Shar Platt-Miller feels right at home at NAGLY in Salem. "I feel like I can be my true self and I can be who I am here," Platt-Miller said.

It's one of the largest centers for LGBTQ young people in the county. Shar's parents helped her connect with the North Shore Alliance of GLBTQ Youth when she came out as a lesbian a few years ago.

But like many places it was physically closed during the pandemic.

"It was definitely hard on socialization for the most part and hard with isolation because I did feel a lot more isolated just like sitting at my house on my computer," said Platt-Miller.

The Covid-19 pandemic took a toll on many young people especially teens in the LGBTQ community.

"Our survey showed that 70% of LGBTQ young people said that their mental health was poor either most or all of the time during Covid-19," said Trevor Project CEO & Executive Director Amit Paley.

The Trevor Project's recent survey found that 42% of LGBTQ youth considered attempting suicide, including more than half of transgender and non-binary youth. And more than 80% of LGBTQ youth say Covid-19 made their living situation more stressful.

"We need to be doing more to make sure that we are creating affirming spaces and a better world so that young people feel supported in their identity and their mental health," said Paley.

At NAGLY in Salem, teens struggling with homelessness can find clothes, toiletries and support.

"It's getting better but the challenges are still there and that's why we still need to exist. That's why we still need to be here," said NAGLY Executive Director James Giessler.

NAGLY has been offering virtual discussions during the pandemic reaching teens from all over the country … and it will welcome teens back inside next month.

"Don't be afraid to ask for help as well," said Platt-Miller.

Plat-Miller says she's proud of her journey and has some advice for anyone struggling.

"You're not alone. There is so many people in your position in this country and all over the world," said Platt-Miller.

Resources for teens and parents:

Massachusetts Commission on LGBTQ Youth

The Trevor Project

North Shore Alliance of GLBTQ Youth

Boston Alliance of Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Queer Youth

Fenway Health

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