Springfield woman giving the LGBTQ+ community a voice through Facebook

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — A Springfield woman helps more than 1,000 people in the LGBTQ+ community.

She created a private Facebook group called “The Lions Den.”

The group meets several times a week to talk about things like suicide awareness and mental health wellness.

It’s a group that has a special meaning this October.

For Sheena Kurtenbach, it all started with an idea in September.

“I see all these groups on Facebook but none of them are touching base on anything important like STD’s because it still happens, just everyone ignores it,” Kurtenbach said. “Or suicide for that matter. Our suicide rates in the LGBTQ+ community are up, they’re really high.”

On Oct. 7, she decided it was time for someone to make a change, and she began The Lion’s Den.

“Each week I assign my moderators tasks,” Kurtenbach said. “We educate on STD’s each week, suicide awareness, drug and alcohol recovery.”

More than 1,000 people watch her video chat meetings.

“There’s been several that I have talked down out of suicide,” Kurtenbach said. “And I’m glad that I could do that. I’m glad that I could give them hope and encourage them that this is not the end. It may seem like it is but it is not.”

An encouraging message during LGBTQ+ history month, which Missouri State University celebrates.

Kimberly Martin, the director of Multicultural Programs at MSU says they want students, faculty and staff to reach out to the campus community to learn about historically under-represented peoples.

MSU has held six events so far, all on Zoom.

One included a chat with the Springfield Police Department’s LGBTQ liaison officer.

“We’re averaging about 75 folks per event,” Martin said. “We’re still going back and forth with some issues about LGBTQ rights and things of that nature so I think it’s important to highlight not only that community locally but what they have contributed to the United States.”

Dr. Kyler Sherman-Wilkins with the Glo Center says it’s not just the recognition that counts.

“Recognition plus equal treatment,” Sherman-Wilkins said. “And kind of doing away with some of those biases and discriminatory acts and prejudicial acts that I think help people in the long run.”

Just because October is coming to an end, it doesn’t mean the help and recognition will stop.

MSU works with LGBTQ students all year, and the Glo Center has some events in the works.

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