Trigger warning: This post contains mention of suicide.
This September, HRC observes National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, reaffirming our commitment to supporting the well-being of LGBTQ youth who often feel alone or hopeless simply because of who they are.
Factors such as bullying and harassment, family rejection and neglect have contributed to the deaths of countless, including LGBTQ youth like Tyler Clementi, Jamel Myles, Leelah Alcorn, Sergio Urrego. These risks are compounded for LGBTQ youth of color at the intersections of racism, transphobia, biphobia and homophobia.
The World Health Organization reports that the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 15 to 29 is suicide. The Trevor Project estimates that attempted suicide rates among LGB youth is five times higher than that of their straight peers. Additionally, a study from the American Academy of Pediatrics found alarming levels of attempted suicide among trans youth.
HRC and the University of Connecticut’s LGBTQ Youth Report found alarming trends among more than 12,000 respondents, ranging in age from 13 to 17:
- More than 70% reported feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week;
- Only 26% of youth said they always feel safe in their school classrooms -- and just 5% said that all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people;
- Just 31% of trans youth surveyed said that they can express themselves in a way that completely reflects their gender identity in school;
- Only 11% of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S.;
- 68% of bisexual youth report being teased or treated poorly at school because of their sexual orientation.
Addressing these startling statistics starts with schools and communities alike working to foster safe and inclusive spaces for LGBTQ young people.
Parents and families can start by learning the facts and educating themselves about issues that impact LGBTQ youth. Whether or not families have openly LGBTQ children, it is vital to make home a safe and affirming space for all identities.
We all can play a role in our communities to ensure that LGBTQ youth feel safe and supported.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you’re a young LGBTQ person and need to talk to someone, call The Trevor Project’s 24-hour crisis hotline for youth at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.
To learn more about supporting LGBTQ youth in their homes, schools and communities, visit www.hrc.org/youth. For more information about how HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools Program can help schools work to become more inclusive and welcoming of LGBTQ young people, check out welcomingschools.org.