These days Pride may be synonymous with rainbow-saturated logos, apparel, and celebrations, but the origins of the movement began with young LGBTQ people fighting against discrimination in the Stonewall Uprising of 1969.
While decades of activism has led to major and significant advances for LGBTQ inclusivity and equality, there is still much work to be done to protect and support LGBTQ youth. National data from The Trevor Project shows that LGBTQ are “consistently found to be at significantly increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated and stigmatized in society” with 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
Local data tracks. In 2021, 58% of LGB middle schoolers in Bennington thought about hurting themselves, while 21% made a suicide plan. Only 33% of LGBT students feel they matter to their community, compared to 54% of their cisgender and heterosexual peers. Discrimination, bullying, and rejection also contribute to higher rates of substance use among LGBTQ youth than their cis/het peers. In Bennington, 21% of LGBT middle school students have ever tried a cigarette, compared to 8% of heterosexual students; 40% of LGBT middle school students have ever tried alcohol, compared to 19% of heterosexual students (YRBS).
We know that LGBTQ-affirming schools and communities are a significant protective factor for youth, reducing suicide risk and promoting well-being for LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ youth who report having just one accepting and affirming adult in their life were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year (The Trevor Project).
We encourage you to take these simple actions, which can go a long way to demonstrating your support for LGBTQ youth all year round:
- Use young people’s names and pronouns correctly, and make a practice of sharing your pronouns with others in meetings and in your email signature
- Educate yourself about LGBTQ people and issues
- Ask questions and talk to youth respectfully about their LGBTQ identity
- Hang a pride flag/sticker in your office or classroom, or wear a pride pin on your nametag
- Incorporate LGBTQ writers, artists, and perspectives into your classroom curriculum, or invite LGBTQ leaders to speak at your youth event—representation matters!
- Celebrate Pride! Pride Month is an opportunity for LGBTQ community members and allies to spread positive messages about the positive aspects of LGBTQ+ identities, expand representation and inclusivity, and show love and acceptance.
- Resources for LGBTQ+ Youth: Connect with other LGBTQ+ youth through groups or events, and find affirming resources on common topics like gender identity and sexual orientation.
- Resources for Parents & Caring Adults: Explore resources for positively affirming and nurturing LGBTQ+ youth, and creating inclusive spaces in the community.
- If you are in crisis and need support: The Trevor Project is available 24/7. Call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386, text START to 678-678, or chat online.