Written by: Kira Olsen
It takes immense courage to live life authentically; to be who you are, to love who you are, to feel safe with who you are. It is a life the LGBTQIA+ community has fought to have. A righteous fight, yes, but one that should be unnecessary. Nonetheless, we tirelessly continue to support and advocate for one another and our community as a whole through education panels, Pride events, artistic and creative expression and self-advocacy. We have fought for our voices, for our safety, for our acceptance, for our equality.
This fight takes an unfathomable toll on our LGBTQIA+ community. The Trevor Project conducted its National Survey on LGBTQIA+ Youth Mental Health for 2022. The survey concluded that 45% of LGBTQIA+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year and stated that 18% of LGBTQIA+ youth had attempted suicide in the past year.
We do not want to have to continue this fight to live our authentic lives. Instead, we want to take the necessary steps to ensure what we have fought for is protected along with our emotional and mental health. The foundation of which is a community of allies.
The importance of being an ally and of raising an ally cannot be understated. However, there is a general knowledge gap on how to be a respectful ally, as being one is multifaceted. That is why we are focusing our efforts on educating individuals as well as families on how to be an effective, aware and supportive ally to LGBTQIA+ youth. We have the opportunity to create an educational environment that will bring awareness and accountability to our parents, our teachers, our co-workers, our children, and our friends. By doing these educational panels where questions are asked and answered, experiences are shared and validated; we reach the individual. It is a ripple effect from there; that individual may slightly curve their vocabulary to be more validating and inclusive, that individual may hold back dismissive comments, and that individual may educate another. By sharing this holistic and continual education, we believe it will bring us together in a safer, softer and beautifully diverse community where our LGBTQIA+ youth are supported.
Affirming our educational approach, The Trevor Project survey also found that LGBTQIA+ youth who felt higher rates of social support through their families and schools reported lower rates of suicide ideation and contemplation.
When we come together with understanding, compassion, support, and acceptance, we are able to see the intrinsically beautiful, the interestingly complex, and the human being in need of connection. We hope you will join us in a community conversation about supporting LGBTQ+ youth and raising allies Tuesday, August 30th!