Valley Forge's YOU B YOU group embraces and supports students in safe environment
January 6, 2020
by M Powers
Valley Forge High School
Valley Forge High School started up a new group this school year to help students be true to who they are.
YOU B YOU has become one of Valley Forge’s many amazing clubs and extracurricular activities and is a place after school for students to feel welcomed, supported and their authentic self.
Valley Forge Guidance Counselor Dawn Tabaj and Home Liaison Sylvie Argirakis serve as advisers for the group, but allow for students to lead the conversations and activities.
Tabaj said she has run similar groups in the past, like Gay Straight Alliance, and there has been an interest in it every year.
“I think we recognize that we need a safe place for students who are LGBTQ+ and also straight to go and talk about things they are facing,” she expressed. “Peer support can be so vital at this age. We feel like providing a private, non-judgmental place that students can be themselves and who they are is so important.”
The focus is on making a place where students can feel comfortable sharing personal stories as well as create a sense of belonging.
“Our goal of the group is to help foster a safe environment where each week students can bring to the group things they are struggling with and together we work through how to handle them,” Tabaj shared. “Many students share things in the group that they have not shared with their family or friends yet.”
This group is truly for anyone and all students can join. Also, the group isn’t only for discussions.
“We want students to have fun so we will be starting part of our group as ‘living room’ time where they get to hang out, play games and just socialize,” Tabaj expressed. “It is a confidential group and we named it YOU B YOU because any student, no matter how they identify, can be part of it. There is no pressure to share anything private.”
So far, the students feel “immediately comfortable in a non-judgmental environment,” Tabaj expressed. Students have been able to openly and honestly share what they have been through.
Tabaj and Argirakis have noticed that a lot of students have similar experiences, which has helped them realize that they aren’t alone.
There has also been a “cohesiveness of the students” Tabaj described, which has been one of many things that allow this group to thrive and help students make personal connections with each other.
YOU B YOU meets every Wednesday and continues to encourage all students to join an enthusiastic and accepting group!