Updated: Jan 1
By Anh Doan
Recently, from NBC News, by Catalina Gonella, GLAAD’s third annual Accelerating Acceptance report examined 2,037 Americans aged 18 and above last November. The report shows that 20 percent of the millennials from 18 to 34-year-old identified themselves as belonging to the LGBTQ+ community. Along with a notable and impressive increase compared to 12 percent from Generation X (ages 35-53), the percentage of understanding and sympathy in the community has turned into a different chapter. It is now higher meaning more and more people accept the LGBTQ+ community and encourage “coming out”.
But being an LGBTQ+ teen is not as easy as the acceptance rate rises. Their mental health is fragile as they are for a long time defined as a “minority” in society. The research from “Out Not Down” shows that 9 out of 10 LGBTQ+ youth say they are out to their close friends and 64% say them out to their classmates. They feel the difference between themselves and their peers which associates with the term, “peer pressure”. Moreover, the initial fear of coming to the family and society that they know the acceptance rate increases also leads them to be depressed. Therefore, Reimagining Society is here to help out with the many ways to support LGBTQ+ teenagers and youths to feel comfortable and supported living every day.
Picture source: rtor.org
Firstly, parents or adults need to let them know that they matter, regardless of whoever they are or what genders they identify themselves as. If you are the parent and know that your child belongs to the LGBTQ+ community but he or she has not come out yet, the right thing to do is to show them your support and show them that they are still loved no matter who they turn out to be. “The most important thing is just being supportive”, says Paul Mitrani, MD, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Child Mind Institute. “When people feel loved and supported, they are more capable. They have greater resilience.” Parents have to acknowledge themselves that their children are anxious about what they try to do (coming out) and worried that the parental hood will be destroyed in a moment. Sympathy and support are the most significant things that adults should do to avoid mental health issues in LGBTQ+ teenagers.
Moving out from the family, another place that adolescents are scared and stressed to address themselves is school. Because from Youth.gov, 85 percent of LGBTQ+ students reported frequently or often hearing “gay” used in a negative way, and 57 percent heard homophobic remarks from teachers or other school staff. This is alarming.
This could change by adding to the school policies about discrimination between genders and the above genders. Moreover, school boards are encouraged to have student-led LGBTQ+ clubs or communities such as PRISM in which students can express themselves without being segregated, or mental health counseling offices where students can go for help and support.
Other students at school need to understand the situation by having mandatory LGBTQ+ history classes or elective classes. Until August 2019, there have been four states such as California, New Jersey, Colorado, and Illinois in the US requiring schools to teach this subject. The class “includes a study of the roles and contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the history of society”. This pro-LGBTQ+ curriculum can help students, in general, have insightful information about this community hence having them broadened their horizons and avoiding discrimination.
With the new policies and curriculums, students and teachers have a better understanding about their LGBTQ+ pupils, then help their friends release stress and anxiety. Furthermore, it is important to make them feel the utmost comfort to be at school or to be in class to continue studying and achieving great accomplishments.
Thirdly, friends and classmates are the most essential people that LGBTQ+ youths could share their stories with. If you have friends from the LGBTQ+ community and they are fearful of coming out, talk to them as much as you can to clear their mind out, to tell them that they are not alone and they have friends beside them. Receiving support and giving support go hand in hand. Therefore, just give as much as you can, so you can receive the same thing in response.
Evidently, the mental health issue is a challenge for LGBTQ+ teenagers because they lost their orientation and way since they are too worried and anxious. Therefore, each individual is encouraged to care about youths around them and give them support to make the youth generation feel safe and free to be themselves.
Written by Anh Doan who is a Global Wellbeing Envoy of Reimagining Society from Vietnam and currently having her schooling at the USA.