Teenage years can be considered to be full of very high highs, and very low lows. It’s a rollercoaster of emotions as you try to navigate, love, intimacy, relationships, friendships… and school. This is universal, and it is experienced by all sexual orientations. However, in the lives of youth who fall under the LGBTQI+ spectrums, the lows can be even lower, due to stigma and discrimination related to their identity.
But this doesn’t have to be the case, and there are various ways how we can support our LGBTQI+ youth! This is mainly done by creating a safe space for these youth at home, at school, and within the community. As a family member, you can be direct and clear with the youth in your life that you love them unconditionally, and that you embrace all the different parts of them which make them unique. Youths who have familial support report high levels of satisfaction and wellbeing, than youth who did not have this support.
With regards to schools, research has shown that even just have a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) had positive impacts on a youth’s wellbeing. This could be because schools who have a GSA experienced fewer instances of discrimination or bullying. It could also be because the very essence of having a GSA shows that homophobia is not tolerated within that school, which sends a clear message to the students.
These are just a few examples of how we can foster a safe environment for our youth. However, even just these few examples can have long-term positive effects.
Ryan C, Russell ST, Huebner D, Diaz R, and Sanchez J. Family acceptance in adolescence and the health of LGBT young adults. Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. 2010; 23:205–213.
Nesbit J. Gay-Straight Alliance Make Schools Safer, Study Finds. U.S. News. 2016. Accessible at: https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-08-04/gay-straight-alliances-in-schools-pay-off-for-all-students-study-finds
Blue A, Renna C. LGBT Teens Who Come Out at School Have Better Self-Esteem, Study Finds. UANews. 2015. Accessible at: https://uanews.arizona.edu/story/lgbt-teens-who-come-out-at-school-have-better-self-esteem-study-finds
Mel McElhatton holds a degree in Social Work from the University of Malta. With Willingness, Mel does life coaching and is one of the facilitators in the IRL – In Real Life team. They are also the producer of the radio show Niddiskutu s-Sess. They can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.