Gaggle Speaks

Ideas, news, and advice for K-12 educators and administrators to help create safe learning environments.

Written by Candy Tai
on June 13, 2023

June marks the celebration of Pride Month—a time to raise awareness about the LGBTQ+ community and the ongoing fight for equal rights and acceptance. While the month is filled with joy, love, and pride, it's also an opportunity to shed light on the unique mental health challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth.

In addition to sharing valuable resources on the Gaggle Supporting LGBTQ Youth page, we'll explore the impact of mental health on LGBTQ+ youth and offer ways to promote understanding and support.

Understanding the Mental Health Challenges for LGBTQ+ Youth

LGBTQ+ youth face unique mental health challenges that are often influenced by societal attitudes, discrimination, and lack of support. These factors contribute to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth compared to their heterosexual peers.

Some of the key challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth include:

  1. Discrimination and stigma: Experiencing discrimination and stigma can lead to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem. This can negatively impact mental health and increase the risk of developing mental health issues.
  2. Bullying and harassment: LGBTQ+ youth are often targets of bullying and harassment at school or in their communities. This can lead to feelings of fear and vulnerability, further exacerbating mental health struggles.
  3. Family rejection: Lack of acceptance and support from family members can be particularly damaging to LGBTQ+ youth's mental health, increasing the risk of depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation.

Unveiling the Struggles and Need for Increased Support

In February 2023, the CDC published a report on youth risk behavior trends, which includes data over the past 10 years (2011-2021). The findings indicate that LGBTQ+ youth experience higher rates of poor mental health in comparison to their peers. The data also revealed that during the past year:

  • •  Nearly 70% experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness 
  • •  45% seriously considered attempting suicide
  • •  37% made a suicide plan
  • •  Almost 25% attempted suicide
  • •  23% were bullied at school
  • •  Nearly 30% were electronically bullied
  • •  More than 50% had poor mental health during the past 30 days

Promoting LGBTQ+ Awareness and Support

To create a more inclusive and supportive environment for LGBTQ+ youth, it's essential to promote awareness, understanding, and acceptance. Here are some ways to build a positive environment and support mental health:

  1. Educate yourself and others: Educate yourself about LGBTQ+ identities, experiences, and mental health challenges. Share your knowledge with others and encourage open conversations.
  2. Create safe spaces: Encourage schools and community organizations to establish safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth, such as support groups or clubs. These spaces offer a welcoming environment where young people can share their experiences and find acceptance.
  3. Advocate for inclusive policies: Support the implementation of anti-discrimination policies in schools and workplaces that protect LGBTQ+ individuals from harassment and discrimination.
  4. Offer mental health resources: Ensure that LGBTQ+ youth have access to mental health resources specifically tailored to their unique needs. This includes access to LGBTQ+ affirming therapists and support services.
  5. Celebrate Pride Month: Participating in Pride Month activities is an excellent way to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community. Attend local events, share LGBTQ+ stories on social media, and encourage others to join the celebration.

Fostering LGBTQ+ Understanding

Pride Month offers an opportunity to raise awareness about the unique mental health challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth. By promoting understanding, acceptance, and support, we can create a more inclusive society that fosters the well-being and success of all young people, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This month we celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in hopes of working towards a brighter future for all.

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