LGBTQIA+ youth all over America and the rest of the world have to endure a lot of challenges as they recognize and express their own gender identity and sexual orientation. The youth of the LGBTQIA+ community have to deal with bullying, discrimination, family rejection, and inner turmoil in a world that has come a long way in its social acceptance in the last few decades.
Nevertheless, considering these many obstacles, LGBTQIA+ youth demonstrated tremendous strength, bravery, and also leadership. They have won as activists, advocates, and pioneers, striving for good change and making the more accepting, welcoming communities.
Starting from a very young age, youth who identify themselves as LGBTQIA+ have to cope with the concept of their own identity and try to decipher the confusing and many messages they receive from society, media, peers, and also their family about gender and sexuality. Their identity is more challenging to navigate in unsupportive environments filled with gender stereotypes, heteronormativity, transphobia, homophobia, and discrimination against queer identities.
Bullying and harassment at the school is a very typical problem. Verbal harassment is reported by over 85% of LGBTQ students, and over 40% report being physically harassed or assaulted. The impact of this harassment is devastating, with LGBTQIA+ youth having a four times higher suicide rate than their peers, and they are also more likely to suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression.
The youth of the LGBTQIA+ community is also strongly affected by family rejection. Many of the homeless youth are LGBTQIA+, with 40% identifying as such, and a majority have been kicked out of their homes or are running away from unaccepting families. Lacking a supportive home environment, these youth remain distrustful of the adults and the institutions that are to protect them.
The progress over the last few years that LGBTQIA+ activists have achieved included the passing of laws protecting sexual orientation and also gender identity discrimination. The gay-straight alliances and the inclusive curriculums are getting spread in the schools. Media and cultural queer positive representation is increasing.
Youth in the LGBTQIA+ community take the lead. These discussions concern gender pronouns, borders, respect, and intersectional identities. They are the pioneer school clubs offering safe havens and support systems. And they are vocally and unequivocally identifying themselves and requiring society to catch up.
Besides that, some young trailblazers are running for political office, thus, launching inclusive businesses and making art and media that celebrates queer joy. Their message is clear: they will not wait for the older generation to establish the fairer, equal society to which they are entitled. They are in front now.
The Path Forward
There are still challenges, but the success promises a safer and better-integrated society. It begins with supportive policies – the national banning of conversion therapy, the passing of the Equality Act to outlaw discrimination, and schools actively preventing bullying and harassment based on sexual and gender identity.
But laws are just the start. Building supportive communities involves:
- We should speak out against discrimination when we see it.
- Showing up for LGBTQIA+ events and causes.
- Embracing friends and family when they come out
Above all, we must empower and genuinely listen to the LGBTQIA+ youth. Their voices and tales light the way; their resilience might also lead the way. They are aware of the answers and the justice they should get. We have to make them realize it.
It is undeniable that the LGBTQIA+ youth undergo several challenges. However, the next generation is a very unafraid one. They celebrate many victories, support one another, and build inclusive communities where people of all genders, identities, and also sexual orientations can flourish. We all need to join them.
Presented by SHAVA, this article is part of our commitment to embracing the diversity within the transgender community. SHAVA stands in solidarity with transgender people of color, advocating for acceptance and allyship that recognize and celebrate the richness of their diverse experiences.