As Americans struggle in the second year of a pandemic, existing — and mostly ignored — inequalities are now in a glaring spotlight.  Being an LGBTQ+ young person unfortunately means that during their critical adolescent years, they can often feel isolated and misunderstood, lacking the resources they need to maintain their mental health. With pandemic-related measures in place across the country, youth are at an even greater risk of social isolation and depression. But online resources, including supportive and educational materials, can help them maintain mental and emotional health. In this guide, you can find information and links to available online resources, as well as ways to address the digital divide and homeless issues in the LGBTQ+ youth community. For detailed information, follow the links in the section headlines and those included in the sections below.

Challenges facing LGBTQ+ youth

LGBTQ+ youth can face some unique challenges, such as higher rates of depression and suicide than their peers. A behavioral health report on youth.gov noted that suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth and young adults, and up to 33 percent of LGBTQ+ youth report having attempted suicide. LGBTQ+ high school students are also two to seven times more likely to commit suicide than their peers.

Bridging the digital divide

Resources are only as useful as the connection you have to them. Unfortunately, there is a siazable digital divide in America, with over 40 million people lacking access to the internet, and nearly 160 million lacking high-speed access. This gap affects low-income families, the homeless population and other marginalized communities, including LGBTQ+ youth.

According to an LGBT Tech impact report, 2.9 to 3.8 million LGBTQ+ people live in rural areas with little access to LGBTQ+ resources outside of the internet.

Homelessness and LGBTQ+ youth

Home is where we often head if we need a safe place to just “be” us. Unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ youth find that after sharing their sexual orientation or gender identity with family, their home is no longer that safe refuge. In fact, LGBTQ+ youth have a 120 percent higher risk than their peers of becoming homeless, according to the Chapin Hall Voice of Youth Count report. 

Staying safe online

Cyberbullying is a major issue for LGBTQ+ youth online. Be aware of the risks when using social media, and learn what to do if you are bullied online.

Ways parents and loved ones can help

As a parent, you can support your teen and help them maintain their mental health. There are multiple ways you can easily find supplemental resources on the internet that provide information to families of LGBTQ+ youth.

Other resource and advocacy groups

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs – The program offers direct services to survivors of all forms of violence and their circle of family and friends. They also work on policy and advocacy, and provide “free, holistic legal services to LGBTQ and HIV-affected survivors in Family Court, Housing Court, Civil Court and with immigration matters.” 

GLAAD LGBTQ Resource List – GLAAD shares stories from the LGBTQ community and this list includes resources in politics, military, aging, legal and other sectors.

The TrevorLifeline – Provides a national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for LGBTQ youth.

Homelessness Help – Provides resources for homeless LGBTQ+ individuals in crisis, as well as provides a reporting platform for housing discrimination or violations.

National Runaway Safeline – A hotline for youth who need someone to hear them, as well as for concerned adults.

The LGBT National Youth Talkline – Free and confidential peer support for LGBTQ+ youth 25 and under.

Trans Lifeline – Operated by individuals who identify as trans or gender expansive, this lifeline provides peer support.

GLBT National Help Center – Free and confidential peer support for LGBTQ+ and questioning people.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – Free and confidential support for anyone in distress, suicide prevention and resources.

Bankrate – Provides financial aid tips and scholarship resources for LGBTQ students.

Content provided courtesy Allconnect and Jess Hunt, Communications Coordinator at allconnect.com

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