June is Pride month- a time to recognize LGBTQ+ unity, diversity, and accomplishments! But amidst this month, there is also the need for serious conversations about how we can support the LGBTQ+ youth in our communities. Everyone is familiar with the storm of judgement and fear that permeates the lives of all teens, and many know how that storm can be especially tumultuous for LGBTQ+ youth. This month, it is important to reflect on what ways we can bring peace to that storm.
According to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42% of LGBTQ+ youth considered attempting suicide in the last year and furthermore, 48% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that they wanted mental health care but were unable to get it. Lack of acceptance at home and beyond contributes to the disproportionate representation of LGBTQ+ youth in the homeless population – in fact, LGBTQ+ youth are 120% more likely to face homelessness than other youth (1). This statistic can be attributed in part to 1 in 4 LGBTQ+ youth being forced to leave their homes after coming out and even when not forced to leave their homes, 68% of youth face familial rejection as a result of their identity (2). If we are dedicated to bettering the lives of teens, we have to commit ourselves to bettering the lives of all teens. If we want to attack the mental health crisis affecting our nation’s youth, we have to take these statistics to heart and address what we can do about them. Bullying is also reported to be a significantly more prevalent issue in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, which can directly impact feelings of self worth, future success, and overall mental health. Bullying based on prejudice regarding gender or sexual orientation has incredibly long lasting impacts, especially when this harassment is not just limited to school life. Support for the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ+ youth needs to be a community effort – something that can only be accomplished when individuals are willing to start conversations and connect with their community at large.
So what can you do to help? The Trevor project provides a plethora of trainings and resources on suicide prevention and how to bring greater equality to youth spaces. Be ready to have conversations relevant to experiences different from your own. Emphasizing love and acceptance can come from spending time learning about LGBTQ+ history (and its important connections with other historic fights for freedom in our nation) or being sure to incorporate diverse representations in the media you watch together. Make sure that the teens in your life know that they matter to you, no matter who they love, and that you’ll be there for them to help them make healthy life choices.