The Learning Space
As extreme anti-LGBTQ+, and particularly anti-trans legislation is being adopted in Iowa, the Unitarian Universalist Society in Coralville, Iowa (UUS) is opening its building as a safe Learning Space. Trans, queer, and other marginalized children and youth in grades one through 12 who are enrolled in online school for the 2023-24 school year will be welcomed to UUS for a safe, supervised environment to complete their classes and socialize with others. The Learning Space will be open to anyone in the community – it is not a Unitarian Universalist-only program – as an alternative to virtual learning from home, and has the capacity to serve up to 50 children and youth.
UUS also plans to provide additional support for the Learning Space with training for adult supervisors in youth mental health, first aid, and classes on trans inclusion and interrupting microaggressions, as well as cost-free optional add-on programming for students including Our Whole Lives comprehensive sexuality education, music, arts, therapeutic outdoor sessions, and more.
UUS is working with many community organizations and interfaith partners to open this Learning Space in August when the school year begins. Partners include United Action for Youth (a local nonprofit that offers counseling and programming for children and youth), local school districts and schools, support groups for trans and other marginalized students, community organizations, and interfaith congregational allies.
Amidst the uncertainty about how legal actions against the new laws will play out, many trans children, youth, and their families are concerned about the toxic environment this new legislation is creating, and the members of UUS are grateful to be able to play a part in providing a healthy and loving alternative. Community support has been great, and many families with trans children are sharing how much of a relief it is to have this space available.