Seattle, WA - The only organization in the world with the sole mission to reach GLBT former and current
students of religious educational institutions, HeartStrong, Inc., is seeking participants for its outreach project,
the HeartStrong Network.
"We are looking for everyone in our GLBT communities who has ever attended a religious educational institution," says Marc Adams, Executive Director and cofounder of HeartStrong, Inc. "All of us who share this history must join hands so we can help to empower those who are still struggling to survive. Those of us who have survived these institutions and who have come to love ourselves in spite of what they tried to do to us, must come together."
"Students and alumni of any religious school, college or university are asked to respond," Adams continues. "This includes Catholic, Mormon, Seventh-day Adventist, Jewish, Presbyterian, Baptist, Pentecostal...this means everyone!"
Those interested in participating in the HeartStrong Network project may click here to register online.
Adams, a gay fundamentalist Baptist preacher’s son and former fundamentalist himself, knows personally the journey that many GLBT persons take when enrolled at religious educational institutions. "I attended these types of schools from 5th grade through high school graduation and I attended Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University for 3 ½ years," Adams reflects. "The harsh disciplinary actions and faith-based anti-GLBT bullying I experienced in the schools I attended were not even close to representing the horrors that others have undergone at many of these institutions."Adams and two others founded HeartStrong, Inc., in January of 1998.
"We feel strongly that we were meant to begin this work of reaching out to struggling and suffering GLBT students at these schools," says Adams. "How could we turn our backs on the thousands of young people trapped emotionally and physically in these environments?" "I remember watching many of my friends being persecuted at Liberty University for homosexuality when I was a student there," Adams injects, "Each time one of my was forced out, I feared that someone would discover me. I never showed them the love and compassion they so desperately needed." It is those experiences and Adams' discovery in 1996 that no one was even attempting to focus on reaching students in these schools that led him to found HeartStrong, Inc. It is now a 501(c)(3) educational non profit corporation governed by a board of others who have attended religious schools.
The HeartStrong Outreach Team has driven over 600,000 miles in the past 18 years, sharing their personal stories, raising awareness about HeartStrong, Inc., and doing outreach to students from religious educational institutions.