The CAMP Rehoboth Community Center works to cultivate space for LGBTQ members in the Sussex County community. It is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community service dedicated to creating a positive environment inclusive of all sexual orientations and gender identities. Their vision is to create a proud and safe community where gender identity and sexual orientation are respected.
The center has been hosting hybrid events for the past year since COVID-19 to educate people about LGBTQ issues. There are events for those in the LGBTQ community as well as those who want to be allies, which typically feature members of the LGBTQ community who answer questions about what it means to be LGBTQ and be an ally.
Some programs at the center address and educate people on the identity of being non-binary. They work to use gender neutral terms to address others. Instead of using “sir” or “ma’am,” people can use “buddy” or “pal.”
LGBTQ allies want to know more about the identity and how they can respect those in the community.
“It’s refreshing that people want to be better [with understanding the LGBTQ community],” program director Salvatore Seeley said.
Seeley has been the director of the CAMPsafe program and the CAMP Rehoboth HIV/AIDS prevention program since 2000. He created the Health and Wellness Initiative and also serves as the director of the Health and Wellness Programs.
Another issue that CAMP Rehoboth works to address is school policies in regards to LGBTQ members.
A youth coordinator for CAMP Rehoboth since 2019, Barbara Antlitz said that “schools need to be more accepting and proactive.” This would mean reforming school dress codes and bathroom policies.
The rules set in place can be changed to better acknowledge and respect the LGBTQ community. Dress codes and uniforms address male and female ways of dressing but do not include non-binary dress, and uniforms often gender clothing to fit only a boy or a girl.
Bathrooms can also be an issue for those who are in the LGBTQ community. A person who identifies as non-binary may not feel comfortable using either the male or female bathroom, and a transgender person could be fearful of ridicule for using the bathroom for the gender that they identify.
Antlitz also mentioned stopping the use of “dead names.” LGBTQ members sometimes want to be addressed by a different name more fitting for their gender identity. A transgender woman or man may not want to go by given name at birth.
Using their old name can be disrespectful of their current identity.
It is crucial to offer youth and young adults resources, Antlitz emphasized. Seeley mentioned how mental health comes into play with being part of the LGBTQ community. For members seeking to get mental healthcare, they can go to the center and get referrals. This often takes time, and therapists don’t always end up working out, but CAMP Rehoboth works to help people with the process.
Through Antlitz’s work with LGBTQ youth, she’s noticed that they are typically quiet and intellectual people. They are curious about the history of the LGBTQ that is not taught in schools.
In addition to the more serious events and programs, Antlitz also wants the LGBTQ youth to bond. There is a youth-led book club that meets once a month, as well as other fun and enjoyable activities.
CAMP Rehoboth is all about giving people the support they need and the opportunities to be educated about the LGBTQ community. Antlitz works to help youth members manage the center’s social media.
They have an Instagram page @camprehoboth as well as a private Instagram page that can be accessed for those who don’t want their identities to be public @thealternde. Their latest project is a podcast titled “The Altern” that can be accessed on the link in their Instagram page.
The CAMP Rehoboth Community Center is located on 37 Baltimore Ave. in Rehoboth Beach.
They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 302-227-5620.