Compass LGBTQ+ center sees record number of parent engagement

Posted at 11:52 PM, Mar 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-26 00:53:09-04

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — People in the LGBTQ+ community are gearing up for Palm Beach Pride this weekend. As they get ready to celebrate the event's 30th anniversary, the Compass Community Center is celebrating a record number of parent engagements.

Staff said they've never had so many parents coming to the center to show their support but also to utilize the resources to better understand queer children.

"I had heard so many stories of kids coming out to their parents and it not ending well. Even though I knew that my parents supported it, I didn't know how they would react if it were their own kid," said LGBTQ+ youth Kai Orenstein.

15-year-old Orenstein said it's been about a year since they came out to their family.

Kai Orenstein.PNG

They said they first came out to their mom during a road trip, and then to their father and then their brother.

"I actually started shaking a bunch, I actually started crying too, and then my mom questioned me a bit and she's, 'okay, we're going to do this,'" said Orenstein.

Orstein said her family was supportive but issues in school brought them to seek therapy at the Compass Community Center in November of 2021.

"I found a lot of friends here, cause I hadn't really known anybody who was similar to me before. So, it's been really comforting to be with people who have gone through similar things," said Orenstein.

Compass Center.PNG

Kai identifies their sexuality as non-binary with they/them pronouns, a new concept for mom and dad.

"The first thing we stepped into this room actually was like a huge step towards repairing our, you know, ability to continue communicating the way we have in the past to be able to support our child in a way that we felt they needed," said Kai's mother Alina Orenstein.

The family said communication is a priority in their household, and when Kai came out, they reached out to Compass for support and resources.

The Compass Community Center said they've seen a record number of family and parents come through, with over 140 in the last year.

Compass Center.PNG

"When I started at Compass in 2012, we didn't really have much parent engagement, it really was kids coming in here in secret, maybe it was a library or an after-school group, but really not discussing that it had anything to do with LGBTQ people or issues," said Amanda Canete, the Youth and Family Services Director. "In 2022 it has completely flipped, we are having the youngest kids coming into the center and also parents coming in and wanting to be engaged, whether that's getting the support for themselves or really wanting to know what's going on, what they're doing, how they can get their kid more involved."

The Orenstein family said they've only been with Compass for about four months, but already see improvement in their child.

Family at Compass Center.PNG

"I see my child as a much healthier individual. We were really worried about their mental well-being and you asked me a year ago I would be worried every day. I'd wake up just terrified that, you know, it would not be a good day for my child this is," said Alina Orenstein.

Staff said the biggest questions parents and grandparents ask are how to approach queer children, how to support them, and about their safety.

"We definitely needed to open ourselves up to talk to people to learn to become better as a parent in its entirety, you know, as a whole as a whole parent," said Gregg Orenstein, Kai's father.

Compass said they welcome any parent and child who needs support.

For a list of services click here.