HRC’s groundbreaking post-election survey of more than 50,000 youth reveals that on the eve of the Trump Administration, LGBTQ youth report a troubling spike in bullying and harassment, and say they are afraid and anxious about what their futures might hold. They also tell us that young people are being targeted based on race, religion, immigration status, and LGBTQ identity, a deeply alarming fallout from the November election.
It’s important to acknowledge these fears and be on the lookout for those at risk. Every single one of us can play a role in instilling hope in the hearts and minds of the young people in our lives, particularly during these uncertain and unsettling times.
Here are five steps you can take today to support LGBTQ youth.
1. Listen to LGBTQ youth.
As one survey respondent said, “Adults can help by being understanding…” Take the time to listen and learn from LGBTQ youth. This survey and HRC’s 2012 survey of 10,000+ LGBTQ youth shed light on the experiences of LGBTQ youth and what we can all do to support them. Keep in mind that LGBTQ youth are diverse. Read HRC’s guide on supporting transgender youth or information on the experiences of bisexual youth and LGBTQ youth of color. Once you’ve done that, take the time to educate others.
2. Be a role model for kindness and inclusion.
“Don’t tolerate any kind of hateful speech,” stressed one survey participant. Speak up if you hear “That’s so gay” or other anti-LGBTQ comments from young people in your lives and be prepared for questions and put-downs on gender. Seventy percent of youth respondents reported witnessing incidents of race-based bullying and harassment. Take advantage of resources like this one from the Southern Poverty Law Center to learn how to speak up against everyday bigotry.
3. Show young people that they can be authentic around you.
Almost half of the LGBTQ youth surveyed say they’ve muted their self-expression or are re-thinking their future plans because of the election. Look for ways that you can demonstrate to the young people in your life that they can be themselves around you. Talk about how there is no “one way” to be a boy or a girl, for example, and avoid making assumptions about a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. If you’re not LGBTQ, come out as a supporter of LGBTQ equality.
4. Take action at the local level to create safe spaces.
More than half of LGBTQ youth say they are now more motivated than ever to help others. Let’s make sure that they feel empowered to do so. Consider your community and some of the places where youth spend time — are they safe for LGBTQ youth? How can you make a difference? For example, consider contacting your local school board and encouraging members to adopt inclusive policies. Be ready to share resources with young people who have experienced harassment or violence. If you work with youth — as a teacher, counselor, social worker or other professional — consider attending the Time To THRIVE conference in April to learn best practices in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth.
5. Stay informed and get involved in the fights ahead.
We face a long and difficult fight ahead to protect the historic progress we’ve made toward ensuring full LGBTQ equality. Join the fight and stay updated on HRC’s local, state and federal advocacy. LGBTQ youth are counting on you.