Free2Be Youth Center opens in Panama City

PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Saint Andrews Episcopal Church celebrated a grand opening Saturday afternoon.

The church opened the Free2Be Youth Center for LGBTQ youth.

Free2Be has partnered with PFLAG (Parents, Friends/Family of Lesbians and Gays) Panama City to create the youth center.

The groups hope to be a home and resource for LGBTQ youth in the area.

Organizers said they want the center to serve as a safe haven for kids and teens who may be going through any issues.

"What we've noticed with our own research is there is a need for youth to have safe spaces. We have high suicide rates with LGBTQ-identified youth, there's incidents of being kicked out of home, couch surfing. So when we got invited to be in the community by PFLAG we created the partnership in order to respond to that need in Panama City," Mario Burton, Executive Director of Free2Be, said.

The youth center will hold a youth peer support group for LGBTQ kids ages 13 to 18 years old every Monday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.