SANBORN, N.Y. (WIVB) — Safety is top of mind for members of the LGBTQ+ community in the wake of the Club Q shooting in Colorado Springs. Five people were killed and 25 injured on that horrific November day.

Niagara Pride hosted a safety forum at Niagara County Community College.

Ronald Piaseczny is the president of Niagara Pride. He’s seen a national upswing in hate-fueled crimes against LGBTQ+ people and says it can be isolating for many.

“To speak and share their thoughts, their concerns, have an opportunity to kind of voice what they’re thinking with regards to violence against the LGBTQ+ community,” Piaseczny said.

Amanda Pollard attended the forum. She says having these discussions are important in furthering the acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community.

“LGBT people are members of our community and deserve the protection and dignity and respect that everyone else would want to receive,” Pollard added.

Several community agencies were on hand to share safety tips and resources.

The Niagara County Sheriff’s Office provided a one-hour active shooter training.

“Any community who right now is feeling marginalized, victimized by what we’re seeing across the nation, it’s important to engage law enforcement,” said Piaseczny.

“When people show up here, like the department, like our local sheriff’s office — it’s a visual statement that ‘I am here, I support you and I care about you.'” added Susan Frawley, Board Member, Niagara Pride.

The president of Niagara Pride added that LGBTQ+ people in rural communities often struggle to reach out for help. Those in need of support can find a list of services, email info@niagarapride.org.

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If you or someone you know is experiencing a crisis, help is available. Erie County’s Crisis Hotline is available 24 hours a day: 716-834-3131. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is also available 24 hours a day: 1-800-273-8255. For more information, visit CrisisServices.org.

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.