OLEAN, NY -- The Olean Public Library plans to introduce its first-ever LGBTQ+ youth support group, the Rainbow Alliance, Wednesday afternoon at 3:45.

According to Jennifer Stickles, head of youth and adult programs at the library, the library’s Teen Advisory Board came up with the idea for the program. The board, made up of area teens, meets once a month to plan events and programs for the library, as well as recommend books the library should add to its collection.

“It was recommended by our teen advisory board,” said Stickles. “One of the main reasons was that their school doesn’t offer something like this. They don’t have a gay-straight alliance.”

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The teens have also helped market their club, distributing fliers throughout Olean.

Stickles described the alliance, open to teens ages 13 to 18, as a safe place for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning teens and straight allies to meet and talk comfortably about LGBTQ+ issues.

“We’ll talk about LGBT history and what it’s like to be LGBT in a rural area,” said Stickles. “I want to do an event in June for PRIDE month.”

Stickles has also considered giving the teens information on the Trevor Project. Founded in 1998, the Trevor Project is a 24-hour crisis prevention and suicide hotline for members of the LGBTQ+ community ages 13 to 24.

Teens have already expressed interest in the Rainbow Alliance, Stickles said. Some were confused about when the meetings actually start and have come to library, located at 134 N. Second St., for the past two Wednesdays in a row, ready to meet with other like-minded teens to discuss LGBTQ+ issues.

Stickles plans to not only offer a support group for teens, but provide education on LGBTQ+ history as well. Stickles said that it is necessary for LGBTQ+ youth to recognize all the progress the community has made, despite anxieties surrounding LGBTQ+ issues in the federal government.

“Things are hard, especially with the new administration,” said Stickles. “But we’ve come a long way. It’s important for them to remember that.”

After the initial meeting on Wednesday the group plans to meet again on Feb.15.

The library's February 3:45 p.m. offerings for teens 13 to 18 include:

  • Coffee House, Feb. 6
  • Teen Advisory Club Meeting Feb. 7 (additional members are sought.)
  • YouTube Club meetings Feb. 8 and 22
  • J-POP Club for fans of Japanese Culture Feb. 13
  • Anti-Valentine's Day Party on Feb. 14. 

For information, call 716-372-0200.