METRO Health brings history and fun to LGBTQ youth

By : Alexis Vilaboy
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ST. PETERSBURG – LGBTQ teens and supporters are invited to sleep in and attend METRO Health’s third annual LGBTQ+ Youth Leadership Summit on Saturday, Feb. 25 at 1 p.m. at its headquarters in St. Petersburg, Fla.

The one-day event focused on developing youth will begin with workshops, the topics of which were requested by METRO’s youth group participants, and end with dinner and a social dance.

“That’s what we’ve learned from our first two years — listening to our attendees is critical to building a successful event and really to get the buy-in of those participating, to get them to give up a Saturday for self-betterment and learning,” said James Keane, director of LGBTQ community center services.

The workshops will delve into topics such as gender, sexuality, coming out to parents and family, bullying, healthy relationships and HIV/STI awareness.

Dr. Milton Wendland of the University of South Florida’s Department of Women’s and Gender Studies will present an overview of LGBTQ+ history to accompany the workshops.

“Those actual topics came from the participants of our youth group,” Keane explained. “We polled that group and asked, ‘What type of subject matter would you like for these workshops to consist of?’ So that’s really where we pulled that list and we were able to match the facilitators to what the youth are requesting.”

The event will also feature a keynote speaker: St. Petersburg City Council chair Darden Rice, member and supporter of the LGBTQ community.

Once the keynote speaker and workshops end at 5 p.m., dinner will be served and the social dance will commence one hour later.

“We’re really working to build the community among that population,” Keane said. “Bringing like minds together is always a good thing.”

With attendance up since the first summit, the center has hopes of at least 50 attendees this year, up from last year’s 40 participants and 20 the year before.

The summit is being put on with the help of several partners, including Glisten Tampa Bay, Pinellas County Schools and the City of St. Petersburg.

“We feel strongly here at METRO, as well as our partners, that development of our youth is critical and these often underserved youth may not have the same opportunities,” Keane said. “We’re really mindful of providing them with all the resources we possibly can to help enrich their lives along their road of self-discovery and becoming adults.”

Although the event is free, registration is required, and those interested can go to to sign up.

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