For over 20 years, The Rainbow Room in Doylestown has served as a safe and nurturing LGBTQ+ youth center. But this Planned Parenthood Keystone initiative doesn’t just help kids, it helps their parents as well.
“One thing that I’d like to say is that I owe my child’s life to the Rainbow Room,” said Heather Sinsell, a mom of a Rainbow Room youth who just graduated from Pennridge High School.
The Rainbow Room helped Sinsell and her son James navigate their journey together with a welcoming, inclusive community of both kids and parents, along with Rainbow Room Staff and volunteers.
“The Rainbow Room didn’t make him fit in a box of ‘male or female’; it gave him the support to figure it all out for himself, and he continues to be himself every day with confidence,” Sinsell added. “My nonbinary son is a testament to the amazing resource The Rainbow Room is and I am an advocate for all they continue to do; thank you all.”
The announcement Friday in Doylestown by Democratic State Senator Steve Santarsiero that The Rainbow Room will receive $630,000 in state funds to ensure that it continues to serve the LGBTQ+ community in Central and Upper Bucks County, and can open a new location in Lower Bucks, guarantees more families like Sinsells can be served.
“The Rainbow Room has been an important part of the Bucks County LGBTQ+ community for 20 years, and this investment will ensure the future of The Rainbow Room is robust and bright,” said Senator Santarsiero. “I have seen first-hand the immense benefit The Rainbow Room offers LBGTQ+ youth and their families in Bucks County. At a time in their lives with so much pressure and scrutiny, The Rainbow Room provides a safe and nurturing space for these young people to find community, education, and empowerment.”
Senator Santarsiero was joined at the press conference by Melissa Reed, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood Keystone, Marlene Pray, Director and Founder of The Rainbow Room, other parents and youth of The Rainbow Room, and clergy to discuss the importance of supporting and expanding the organization to reach more youth.
Pray said this announcement makes the 20th anniversary even more memorable as she looks forward to serving more Bucks County kids and their families.
“The expansion of The Rainbow Room means that more LGBTQ+ youth have access to the peer support, education, and resources they need to be their authentic selves,” added Pray.
Bucks County, like the rest of the country, has seen a significant uptick in anti-LGBTQ+ hate and discrimination, which makes this grant money that much more urgent.
“In the face of attacks on and discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community, this grant empowers us to stand up in the face of bigotry and provide more educational programming and resources to youth,” stated Planned Parenthood Keystone’s Reed.
SueAnn Devito, parent of a Rainbow Room youth member, also echoed the significance of knowing there is a safe space locally for LGBTQ+ youth.
“The most difficult thing as a parent of an LGBTQ youth was fearing for my daughter’s safety. I am eternally grateful for the safe space that Rainbow Room provided her,” said Devito. “In addition to having a safe place to gather, she and her friends learned about healthy relationships, holding safe space for others, and civic engagement-positively shaping all of their lives. The Rainbow Room has had a long lasting and profound impact they have all carried into adulthood.”
Additional information on The Rainbow Room can be found here.