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Loudoun's First LGBT Family Support Group To Meet Sunday

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Potomac Falls High School students Charley Smith and Riley Schappell, as well as Schappell's mom, Lori Stevens, are three driving forces behind LOL.
Jonathan Wilson
Potomac Falls High School students Charley Smith and Riley Schappell, as well as Schappell's mom, Lori Stevens, are three driving forces behind LOL.

In Virginia, some students and parents in Loudoun County say there are few places for the families of gay and lesbian teens to turn for emotional support and guidance.

Riley Schappell is a 16-year-old sophomore at Potomac Falls High School in Loudoun. She's straight, but started attending meetings of the school's GSA, or Gay-Straight Alliance, to support her gay friends.

"So I started going, and I was really disappointed...there was probably only...four or five, maybe six people in it," she says.

Schappell's mom, Lori Stevens, the wife of current school board president John Stevens, thinks participation in Gay-Straight Alliances might increase with more support and education beyond school walls.

"There needs to be a place where kids can come outside of the hallways, have more of a sense of anonymity, and be just with their peers and their straight allies and friends," says Stevens, a board member of Metro DC PFLAG.

Stevens hopes Loudoun Out Loud, which holds its first meeting on Sunday, can be that place.

Charley Smith, a senior at Potomac Falls and the president of its GSA says she thinks LOL could eventually help things inside schools as well.

She's hoping for a big turnout this weekend.

"I'm very nervous that it's going to be a lower turnout than I want it to be," she says, "but I'm also very excited to see anybody turn up."

Smith also says she thinks the parents and relatives of teens who show up may be even more important than the teens themselves.

She says adults often underestimate the kind of impact they can have on their children.

Loudoun Out Loud's first meeting takes place on Sunday at Unitarian Universalists of Sterling, 22315 Davis Drive at 4 p.m. Meetings will continue on the fourth Sunday of every month at the same time and place.

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