Encircle: Breaking Barriers for LGBTQ+ Community

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The Appomattox project hosted Stephanie Larsen the creator of Encircle to spread awareness of the needs of the LGBTQ+ community.

Utah is well known for its tight knit and loving communities, according to Larsen, but it can be too tight and exclude others prompting Stephanie Larsen to create better circles of love in Utah for everyone.

Larsen came up with the idea to provide a home for those who don’t feel like they are at home anywhere creating Encircle. Larsen created Encircle in response to the the rushing suicide rate in Utah. “The ultimate reason for Encircle is to keep youth alive,” said Larsen.

Larsen believed Provo was ready to take this leap but was unsure of how to make this place a resource for those in need of  a home filled with love not hate. So, they decided on a circle, ‘no sides only love’, to build bigger circles in the family and the community; Encircle.

“We do not believe in any form of reparative therapy,” said Larsen “Our therapy is directed at the individual and helping them to have good mental health, whatever that means to them.”  Encircle does this each month with its 300 therapy sessions, 35 programs and 48 support groups.

For students and educators here at UVU Larsen voiced that awareness is a great place to start in the fight to help. Included their testimony Alexa Melena, UVU Psychology major and vice president of the club Spectrum; Queer Student Alliance, agrees that we need to be open to learning about other’s experiences and learning something new, saying that’s what higher education is all about.

“There is one thing about us that is different but so many things that are in common,” said Melena.

Melena invites all to come and join them at UVU to be welcomed into the family no matter your gender identity.

With about 750 people per month participating in the programs and services offered at Encircle many are finding love and support. Lovingly Larsen said, “It feels packed, but it feels like love.”

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