Historically, the most welcoming places for LGBTQ+ people have been clubs and bars. This has normalized drinking and substance use within the LGBTQ+ community and can entice LGBTQ+ youth who may not have any other supportive structures in their lives. LGBTQ+ youth often question and discover their identity while going through adolescence. This can cause excess stress and turmoil on top of the common stressors of school, friends, family, and growing up. Labels on sexuality and gender can be restrictive for some, but some LGBTQ+ teens may seek them to find a community while they discover their individual identity.
Transgender youth who are rejected by their family attempt suicide two to three times more compared to transgender youth who are accepted and affirmed by their family.
How you can support LGBTQ+ Youth
- Encourage conversation – not all talks need to be serious. Asking about their friends, interests, school, and current events can get your loved one talking when they might not know how to start the conversation in the first place. And after asking, make sure to LISTEN!
- Self-educate – it can be exhausting for LGBTQ+ youth to continually educate others if they are still discovering their identity themselves. In the age of the internet, there are endless resources on how to support your LGBTQ+ teen. If you don’t know where to go, check out the resources linked below to get you started. Some basic facts to help you with your education: it’s not a phase, there is no cure, and there is no one to blame.
- Get familiar with the school – Nearly 44% of Rhode Island youth have reported being bullied in the last three months, so it’s critical to know what resources your teen’s school offers. Learn about LGBTQ+ school policies, find Genders & Sexualities Alliances or Pride after-school clubs, and learn about your teen’s teachers and counselors. If something seems wrong, speak up to the school!
- Show that you care – for both your loved one and yourself, mistakes will be made, and that’s okay! What’s most important is giving LGBTQ+ youth lots of love and support. Coming out can be a scary and challenging process, so it’s essential to show that you are there for them.
Regional Prevention Coalition is Awarded Federal Grant to Address Youth Substance Use Press Release
PFLAG Providence https://www.pflagprovidence.org/
Youth Pride RI https://www.youthprideri.org/
Thundermist Trans* & Non-Binary Health Access http://www.thundermisthealth.org/services/trans-health-access/
TGI Network of RI https://www.tginetwork.org/
The Trevor Project https://thetrevorproject.org/
Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) https://www.glaad.org/
The Safe Zone Project https://thesafezoneproject.com/
Lambda Legal https://www.lambdalegal.org/
Queer Inclusivity Booklet
An Ally’s Guide to Understanding booklet gives you a glimpse into the LGBTQIA+ community, teaches how this community is affected by substance use and mental health and gives you resources you can use to help.