How to Support LGBTQIA Teens this Pride Month
This June marks another Pride month, following more than fifty years of Pride parade celebrations, beginning with the very first in New York City on June 28, 1970. As with every year, there will be many participants for whom this Pride month is their first one “out.”
More than ever, teenagers are coming to terms with their sexual orientation and living their truths publicly. Unfortunately, while there is growing acceptance across the country regarding LGBTQIA people, many LGBTQIA youths struggle greatly with mental health issues, particularly if they are in a hostile home or community environment.
Tragically, numerous studies have shown that LGBTQIA youth are much more likely to consider—and commit—suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. It doesn’t have to be this way. Together, we can all help support LGBTQIA teens this pride month 2021—and beyond.
Being an ally
Anyone can—and should—be an ally. Supporting LGBTQIA teens is vitally important as they question their sexual identity and mature. At this tender and sometimes fragile age, your support can mean everything.
Here are different ways that you can be an ally.
These apply to everyone:
- Speak out when you see anti-LGBTQIA discrimination or harassment
- Speak out when you hear homophobic slurs
- Attend LGBTQIA events (like Pride 2021!)
- Educate yourself about LGBTQIA issues
- Wear/display LGBTQIA-friendly stickers (or buttons) and posters
- Never assume someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity
As the classmate of an LGBTQIA youth, you can do the following:
- Report any anti-LGBTQIA discrimination to your school principal
- Support your LGBTQIA friends
- Advocate for your school to introduce and enforce a policy of nondiscrimination that encompasses gender identity and sexual orientation
- Ask your school’s library to hold and feature books by LGBTQIA people and about LGBTQIA issues
The following are resources that may be helpful:
Faculty and staff
For faculty and staff, your support can make a big difference. Consider the following ways to help:
- Ensure that your classroom is a safe space
- Call out and report antigay language
- Ask the library to hold books by LGBTQIA people and about LGBTQIA issues
- Create a curriculum that features contributions by LGBTQIA people
- Feature classroom displays or lesson plans about LGBTQIA History or Pride Months
- If asked, serve as an advisor for an LGBTQIA student group
- Always insist on an inclusive environment, not only in your classroom but school-wide
Here are additional resources:
- Advocates for Youth
- GLSEN – educator resources
- American Psychological Association – primer for educators
Parents and family members
For parents and other family members, your support is especially crucial. Here are ways that you can help:
- Always support your children (as well as their friends) who actively question their sexual identity
- Let them know that they are loved. Your acceptance is critical.
- Encourage dialogue
- Educate yourself and avoid dismissive language like “It’s just a phase.”
- Meet with school faculty or staff as needed to discuss any concerns you might have
- Support your child in filing complaints about harassment or discrimination
- Work with your child to organize events, e.g., celebrating LGBTQIA Pride month.
- Ensure that your child’s school upholds its nondiscrimination policy.
Here are helpful resources:
Supporting mental health
Many LGBTQIA youth suffer from intense doubts, self-loathing, self-harm, eating disorders, etc. These problems are much more likely if they feel as if they have no support. In addition to the above, here are resources that you can share with at-risk LGBTQIA teens or their parents/family members.
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project has been helping at-risk LGBTQIA youth since 1998. Established by the creators of the Oscar-winning short film Trevor, the organization focuses specifically on providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQIA youth (people under 25).
You can let them know that in addition to a 24/7/365 phone line, the Trevor Project also has a 24/7 confidential online chat with a counselor, as well as a 24/7/365 texting service (all they need to do is text START to 678-678 to begin).
Elevations RTC is a leading Residential Treatment Center for adolescents undergoing serious mental health issues, learning disorders, emotional disorders, substance abuse, and other underlying problems.
Elevations RTC is unique because it ensures an all-gender inclusive residential environment, combining psychiatric treatment and personalized care.
Elevations Treatment Centers are medically comprehensive environments specifically tailored to help struggling adolescents, no matter their sexual identity or place on the gender spectrum.
Gay pride 2021
This Pride month 2021, challenge yourself to go above and beyond in helping LGBTQIA teens. At this difficult time of their lives, many LGBTQIA youth find themselves lacking support. By contributing your own, you can truly change lives.
After all, that’s what Pride Month is all about—showing that love is powerful and, most of all, blind.