June is Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and ally (LGBTQIA+) Pride Month. At ChildSavers, we celebrate diversity and inclusion, and we recognize that some of those we serve identify as LGBTQIA+.
This month, we want to raise awareness about how some in the LGBTQIA+ community are at higher risk for mental health issues because of trauma, bullying, and rejection. While many LGBTQIA+ youth are happy and thriving, others may face challenges in their schools and at home because of their sexuality. It is important as parents, guardians, and teachers to be supportive of LGBTQIA+ teens.
According to Mental Health America, 19% to 29% of LGBTQIA+ students reported experiencing dating violence. Further, LGBTQIA+ adolescents between seventh and twelfth grade were two times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual peers. LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely to experience bullying. They are also at a higher risk for substance abuse and risky behavior.
As we know from the ACEs study, children who experience trauma, such as bullying, are more likely to experience long-term negative mental and physical health problems well into adulthood. However, if you address trauma with a therapeutic response, children can grow resilient and thrive. It is important to support our LGBTQIA+ children because negative experiences like bullying or rejection can affect their education and health.
How You Can Support your LGBTQIA+ Child
As a parent or guardian, how you respond to your LGBTQIA+ child or teen can have a deep impact. Resiliency is the universal antidote to trauma. Healthy relationships with adults are one of those positive, resiliency-building factors.
You can positively influence your LGBTQIA+ child or teens health by doing the following:
- Staying involved – guardians and parents who stay involved in their child’s lives help them feel cared for and safe. You can do this by making an effort to get to know your teen’s friends. You can also remain in touch with their lives by knowing what is happening in their day-to-day interactions at school, with peers, teachers, and friends.
- Talking and listening – You can help your teen feel loved and supported by inviting an open, non-judgmental discussion about your teen’s sexual orientation. If you take the time to speak with your teen, remain respectful and loving, you can help them feel supported.
- Being proactive – As a parent or guardian, you can access information online about how to support your LGBTQIA+ teen. There are resources that can guide you and other family members in helping your child thrive and be successful.
How You and Your Family can Celebrate LGBTQIA+ Pride
There are many ways you and your family can celebrate and support community diversity. You can read LGBTQIA+-themed children’s books together. The blog, ROMPER suggestions filling your house with rainbows – the symbol of LGBTQIA+ pride. You can make rainbow flags and banners and hang them in your home. You can dress up together in rainbow colors too.
Other ways of celebrating are to volunteer for organizations in your community. In Richmond, Side by Side (formerly ROSMY) is dedicated to creating supportive communities where LGBTQIA+ youth can define themselves, belong, and flourish. They provide support groups for LGBTQIA+ and volunteer opportunities. You can also find other ways of supporting the LGBTQIA+ community through GayRVA, Equality Virginia, and Virginia Pride.