I had a different blog in mind for this month, but there was a situation in the small Indiana town that I live in where a house was vandalized with hateful, homophobic graffiti and obscene images all across the side of the house. It was sad, infuriating, hurtful, and a reminder that there is a lot of work that still needs to be done to ensure all LGBTQ+ individuals, especially youth, have the services and protection they need around them!
Another Pride month has come and past. A few questions for you:
- What did your organization do to celebrate this month of diversity?
- Does your organization and staff embrace diversity with sensitivity and empathy?
- Are there personal or organization biases or prejudices that influence the ability to provide services?
- Does everyone know when to educate, consult, or refer services?
It is essential that the afterschool program embrace lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth and families. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that societal factors such as bullying, violence, and discrimination heighten health risks for anyone and LGBTQ youth experience elevated risks and associated negative health and mental health outcomes. Because of social and structural inequalities, such as the stigma and discrimination that LGBTQ individuals experience, members of this community are at increased risk of negative health and mental health outcomes. These attitudes can lead to rejection by friends and family, discriminatory acts and violence, and laws and policies with negative consequences.
If you didn’t know …homophobia, stigma, and discrimination can:
- Limit your access to high-quality health care that is responsive to your health issues.
- Add to poor mental health and poor coping skills, such as substance abuse, risky sexual behaviors, and suicide attempts.
- Affect your ability to have and maintain long-term same-sex relationships that lower your chances of getting HIV & STDs.
- Make it harder for you to be open about your sexual orientation, which can increase stress, limit social support, and negatively affect your health.
Positive environments are important to help all youth thrive. Consequently, should a LGBTQ person be born, raised, and live in an environment and community that is nurturing and does not discriminate against LGBTQ people, the chances of suicide, poor mental health, substance abuse and misuse, and poor physical health are virtually the same for all individuals, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. So where can your organization turn to receive help to ensure that LGBTQ youth and families that you serve are treated with respect, dignity, and compassion?
Below are six resources from national organizations that you can utilize to not only provide valuable information, but that also reach out to local community groups and coalitions!
- GLSEN – Every day GLSEN works to ensure that LGBTQ students are able to learn and grow in a school environment free from bullying and harassment. Together, we can transform our nation’s K-12 schools into the safe and affirming environment all youth deserve.
- The Trevor Project – We provide crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth. The Trevor Project offers accredited life-saving, life-affirming programs and services to LGBTQ youth that create safe, accepting and inclusive environments over the phone, online and through text.
- StopBullying.gov LGBTQ Youth – LGBTQ youth and those perceived as LGBTQ are at an increased risk of being bullied. There are important and unique considerations for strategies to prevent and address bullying of LGBTQ youth.
- The Q Card – A simple and easy-to-use communication tool designed to empower LGBTQ youth to become actively engaged in their health, and to support the people who provide their care. With input from queer youth, healthcare providers, and youth advocates, we’ve created a tool that we believe can change the way that queer youth receive care, and how their providers deliver it.
- Human Rights Campaign – As the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer civil rights organization, HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are ensured of their basic equal rights and can be open, honest and safe at home, at work, and in the community.
- Out & Equal Workplace Advocates – The world’s premier nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer workplace equality. We partner with Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies to provide executive leadership development, comprehensive training and consultation, and professional networking opportunities that build inclusive and welcoming work environments.
For breakfast, I had egg whites with broccoli and chadar cheese with black coffee.