The world as we know it is changing at a rapid pace. In many ways, this is positive. New perspectives and mindsets are being accepted or at the very least, they are part of the bigger conversation. However, there are downsides to all this change. For example, with so many young people identifying as LGBTQIA+, there is still so far to go in terms of discrimination.
New cultural shifts can be confusing or even challenging. Unfortunately, this often manifests in deliberate or unintentional bias. For younger folks, this can feel triggering and dangerous. Thus, it is important to understand how such discrimination manifests and how to deal with it.
How Are LGBTQIA+ Youths Affected By Discrimination?
There is overt bigotry and there are behaviors founded on ignorance or a lack of awareness. These can fall into categories ranging from hate crimes to legal statutes to micro-aggressions. Plus, of course, each person has individual boundaries that may be disrespected on a regular basis. This situation can begin at home, e.g.
- Parents or siblings are unaccepting of your sexual preference and/or identity
- The use of inappropriate or downright abusive language toward you or in your presence
- Full-blown rejection with the possibility of physical violence
Indeed, these trends can continue in other settings like school, work, and basically anywhere in public life. Examples include but are not limited to:
- Bathroom politics
- Not offering equal access to services
- Bullying, name-calling, stalking, and threats (in-person and online)
- Mockery and teasing
By the Numbers
In studies, 90 percent of LGBTQIA+ youths have reported hearing discriminatory language every day at school (with about 33 percent coming from staff members). Here are more related numbers:
- The average number of anti-LGBTQIA+ slurs heard per day: 26
- 84 percent of LGBTQIA+ youth deal with verbal harassment at school
- 25 percent have been physical hurt
- 28 percent drop out due to such harassment
Dropping out is far from the only risk. Generally speaking, LGBTQIA+ youth are also more likely to:
- Engage in substance abuse
- Become homeless
- Commit suicide
In other words, the precise method of discrimination can vary widely but all such methods add up to some frightening trends.
On the Flip Side
It is essential to recognize that upbeat trends also exist. More young people are learning how to be allies and are willing to do the work. Teachers are becoming more aware of how they can become a positive presence in the changing landscape. For those reading this who wish to be a reliable ally, some points to consider:
- Do not make assumptions about anyone’s orientation or identity
- Educate yourself on related topics before speaking about them
- Stand up for anyone who is bullying or threatened
- Hold yourself and others accountable when discrimination of any kind occurs
- Do not remain silent in the face of abuse and bigotry
As more and more people like you take active steps, the playing field shifts. There is no finish line in this struggle but every shift has the potential to save a life.
But Where Do the LGBTQIA+ Youths Turn?
If you’re an LGBTQIA+ youth, you might be reading this and thinking you don’t have time to wait for societal shifts. And you’re right. You have a life to now. Faced with many challenges, you can lose optimism about your prospects. This is precisely why so many young people like you seek out LGBTQIA+ friendly therapists.
Your weekly sessions offer you the safe space you need to develop coping mechanisms. You are not alone and I invite you to reach out right now to be assured that help is available. I’d be honored to support you on this journey toward both acceptance and self-acceptance with LGBTQIA+ Counseling.