LIVINGSTON, NJ — Four Livingston moms recently banded together to organize a support group on social media for parents of Livingston LGBTQ teens, pre-teens and younger children.

The mothers, who preferred to remain anonymous, explained that their objective is “to help find other moms of LGBTQ kids and help each other navigate social and life issues.”

“We want to just form a place for them to talk and have others listen,” they said, adding that the new Facebook group garnered a significantly positive response and already has more than 500 members.

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Many Livingston residents have expressed pride in the parents who have taken the initiative to collaborate and help each other determine the best support methods for supporting their children.

Local makeup artist Kelly Schultz of Julu Beauty was among those who joined the support group, volunteering her services to help LGBTQ individuals in the area “beautify themselves in any way they want.” Others who offered their support included a therapist who is moving to the area.

In the weeks since the group was established, eight local moms participated in the first meeting, where they initiated an ongoing discussion on what the future of this group should look like. One decision made thus far was to maintain a “private” status within the group out of respect for any LGBTQ individuals who prefer not to publicly disclose their sexual preferences.

The group leaders also acknowledged that both Heritage Middle School (HMS) and Livingston High School (LHS) have LGBTQ support groups available to students.

One of the founders, whose daughter was a member of both of groups at Livingston Public Schools (LPS), expressed gratitude toward the LPS district as a whole for being supportive of LGBTQ individuals, adding that such groups do not always exist in other towns.

One such group for local LGBTQ teens is the Spectrum Club at HMS, which “works to promote acceptance of all LGBTQ students among the student body by providing a safe space and creating opportunities for education to increase knowledge on the topic,” according to LPS Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator Michelle Bent.

“Students in the group organize fundraisers, assemblies, spirit weeks, etc. to increase their presence within the school community and promote acceptance by their peers of LGBTQ students,” said Bent, who also acknowledged eighth grade English teacher Kimberly Egipciaco as the club advisor.

At LHS, the Gender Sexuality Alliance (GSA) works to “provide a safe space for the LGBT and allies, and to make LHS a more accepting place to learn,” according to Bent, acknowledging science teacher Matthew Wasserman as the club advisor. 

“The Spectrum Club was an LGBTQ safe support group that helped me make friends like me, and helped my friends and I discover our identity,” said a former member who asked to remain anonymous. “I remember the first day of the spectrum club at Heritage and how far some of my friends have come since then and how much happier they are now.”

Now a member of the GSA at the high school, the teen added that she has enjoyed the few meetings she was able to attend prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Everyone was super nice,” she said. “It is truly a helpful club that is here to help other students and inform people who may not understand our community. I am so grateful Livingston has these groups.”

Although these groups exist within the schools, they are specific to the students and do little to assist local parents in learning how best to support their LGBTQ children.

Those involved in Livingston’s new LGBTQ parent support group now have each other as a resource to utilize as needed, and the founders hope the group will continue to expand.

For more information about the LGBTQ parent support group, contact norahhillary@gmail.com.

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