As anti-transgender policies and legislation continue to emerge, it becomes increasingly crucial for LGBTQ+ individuals, particularly the youth, to find support within their communities. According to the Trevor Project’s National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People, nearly one in three LGBTQ+ youth have experienced a decline in their mental health due to anti-LGBTQ+ policies and legislation. Additionally, nearly two in three LGBTQ+ youth claim that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ+ people at school has significantly worsened their mental health.
Educating yourself helps you navigate conversations with LGBTQ+ youth and address biases you might not know you have.
These statistics are concerning and have the potential to exacerbate the already existing challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth, who often grapple with stigma not only regarding their identity but also their mental health. This article aims to provide guidance on how you can actively support and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth during a time when the rules and policies fail to do so.
- Educate yourself
The first step in supporting the LGBTQ+ community is to educate yourself. The Trevor Project found that LGBTQ+ youth report lower rates of attempting suicide when they have access to affirming spaces, expressing that they want the people in their lives to learn more about the basics of LGBTQ identities.
Take the time to educate yourself on gender expression, pronouns, transitioning, and how to be an ally. This knowledge equips you to answer their questions and respond empathetically if they seek your guidance. Moreover, educating yourself helps you navigate conversations with LGBTQ+ youth and address biases you might not know you have.
- Foster open conversations
Create an atmosphere of open communication with the queer and trans youth in your life. Listen to their thoughts, encourage them to ask questions, and reassure them that you are there to support them. Be honest if you don’t have all the answers but emphasize that that you are there to help find them.
- Equip them with accessible resources
Ensure the trans or LGBTQ+ youth in your life are aware of the available resources, especially for times when you can’t be there to help. Below are some helpful organizations and websites that you and your loved ones should know:
If you are concerned that someone might be contemplating suicide, there are ways for you to help. Know the signs to watch out for and call the National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 for support. LGBTQ+ youth who need assistance can call 1-866-488-7386 or text ‘START’ to 678-678 to connect with a crisis counselor at The Trevor Project.
As anti-trans legislation threatens the well-being of LGBTQ+ youth, it’s our collective responsibility to provide support, understanding, and resources. By educating ourselves, fostering open communication, advocating for their rights, and equipping them with accessible resources, we can play a vital role in helping LGBTQ+ and transgender youth navigate these challenging times and find the support they need.