Within this last year the LGBTQ community as a whole has made great strides. Marriage was legalized, Caitlyn Jenner publicly transitioned, and President Barack Obama openly condemned conversion therapy.
We’ve definitely made progress, but we still have a long way to go. Specifically we need to start focusing on the problems within our youth.
Recent studies have concluded that 33 percent of LGBTQ youth between the ages of 16 and 20 meet criteria for any mental disorder, while the same number of youth have reported attempting suicide within their lifetime.
The lack of support, understanding, and general representation within both LGBTQ specific and general public spaces are still major problems for our youth. These problems can foster the bullying and alienation that lead to mental and emotional health issues prevalent within the youth of our community.
The CDC’s official website proclaims that most LGBTQ youth are happy and thriving throughout their adolescent years. Yes, that should sound odd, considering the CDC goes on to offer solutions for schools and parents to help ease the health and academic issues that many LGBTQ youth specifically face. Why offer solutions for problems we’re refusing to even address? Compared to heterosexual youth, LGB youth are twice as likely to be depressed and contemplate suicide, and four times as likely to actually attempt suicide. For transgender youth, those rates are alarmingly higher.
At school 64 percent of LGBTQ students reported feeling unsafe, and 54 percent reported having their property deliberately stolen or damaged. We know the statistics. The first step is acknowledging these problems and being willing to actually discuss them. It’s time to stop hushing the topic of mental illness within LGBTQ youth. From there we can begin establishing safer spaces for youth with — and without — mental disorders, and promoting media representation featuring our younger LGBTQ community.
It can start now, but to do so, we need to face the problem itself.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.