Stand Up for LGBTQ Youth
Picture this: You come to school one day, ready to learn, but because you’re gay, you’re told to leave the classroom. This is what happened to Josh, an openly gay student. Josh’s health teacher didn’t include him in a lesson because she thought gay people shouldn’t care about their sexual health. Challenges like this have inspired Josh to become a voice for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning) community, spreading positive messages and truth. “I hoped what I had to say would change things for the better and change the views of the people who had brought me down,” he says.
Like Josh, young people who identify as LGBTQ often face many challenges — such as bias, rejection from their families, depression, and violence at school. But, feeling empowered to speak up can be a game changer, transforming you from victim to advocate. endever*, a young person who identifies as nongender, says that having at least one person in your life who cares and believes in you can make all the difference. Programs can also help LGBTQ youth, says Amanda, who joined a gay-straight alliance (GSA) in college, a place she says was a “safe space.”
LGBTQ young people and their allies, who may not identify as LGBTQ but support the community, have the power to use their voices to create safe spaces for LGBTQ youth in schools, communities, and the nation. Here are a few ideas for Change Makers who want to empower LGBTQ youth:
Stand Up Against Harassment and Bullying of LGBTQ Youth
According to a recent survey, almost 85% of LGBT students said they were verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation. Learn more about experiences of LGBT youth in school and consider how you can use your voice to stand up to bullying and support your peers.
Organize a Gay-Straight Alliance
Help make your school safer and more welcoming for everyone by starting a GSA. GLSEN and the GSA Network have a website that provides information that can help you start a GSA at your school, or help an established GSA become even better. These resources can help you learn how to start a GSA, recruit members, run effective meetings, partner with adults, celebrate your successes, and more.
Get Involved With the Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is an organization that helps LGBTQ youth get through tough times. Its website provides information on ways to get involved through volunteering, advocacy, and connecting through social media. Consider applying to be part of the Trevor Project Youth Advisory Council and your voice could shape the organization’s direction.
Did these stories inspire you to take action? Share this blog post on Facebook, tell us your thoughts, and share your own experiences working for positive change. If you are interested in learning more about the issues that affect LGBTQ youth, check out the YE4C LGBTQ Topic Page.