Even with broadening acceptance, folks who identify as LGBTQ still experience discrimination, harassment, and victimization because of their gender identity and sexual orientation. For LGBTQ youth, bullying by peers and rejection by family are common. While at school, LGBTQ kids can feel excluded from coming-of-age traditions such as prom or may find their experiences absent in sex-ed classes. These kids are sitting in classrooms where their teachers and textbooks fail to address their identities, behaviors, and experiences. Not surprisingly, this can lead to emotional distress.
There are ways to promote safe experiences and environments for LGBTQ youth. Inclusive interactions at home and school are key to helping youth understand their gender identity and sexual orientation. Families should incorporate positive examples of LGBTQ individuals, encourage healthy, romantic relationships, and dispel myths about behaviors and identities. Schools should include lgbtq-inclusive curriculum in history, literature, and art classes to include positive contributions. Schools should support initiatives to promote involvement in healthy relationships. Efforts to encourage dating and healthy platonic and romantic relationships such as Gay Prom reduce the disparities lgbtq youth face.
Efforts on a community level include joining a local PFLAG chapter or connecting with a therapist.
For further information, please contact Sara Allen at Genesis Therapy Center. Genesis Therapy Center holds a Psychoeducational Group for Family and Friends of LGBTQ children and teens.