PRIDE is an acronym for Personal Rights in Defense and Education. No matter who you love or how you identify, everyone deserves to be safe, valued, equal, and proud. Now more than ever, it’s important to support and celebrate the incredible LGBTQ+ community.
How can you show your support and be an ally for LGBTQ+ youth? Our Wise Team provides some valuable insight on how you can show up.
I always told myself that I didn’t want to be a “blank slate” therapist. I am a human and a therapist that seeks to increase representation and connection for others. Especially for the LGBTQ+ youth in our communities because I want to help remind them that they are not alone. One of the reasons that I do this work comes from my own experiences as a queer individual. I did not have support or LGBTQ+ representation while growing up. Can you believe that I didn’t even know that LGBTQ+ individuals existed until I was in high school?!
Even then, all I had were the negative narratives that were perpetuated by both society and the people in my life. Without any support or positive representation of LGBTQ+ individuals, I had no example of what it could look like to unapologetically take up space and thrive as a queer individual. It was only as an adult, that I was able to find the people and places that helped me to dismantle the negative narratives and to feel affirmed.
While my own story is unique to me, being told that who you are is not okay or not right is unfortunately a story that is all too common for LGBTQ+ youth. LGBTQ+ youth who are rejected by their parents, caregivers, families, friends, peers, teachers, etc. are at a significantly increased risk for mental health issues and suicide. For this reason and so many others, it is vital that people remember that they do not need to understand someone’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity in order to respect or love them.
Pride Month is a worthy thing to celebrate. But the celebration of LGBTQ+ individuals shouldn’t be our focus just for this month. It is important for LGBTQ+ youth to receive validation and support EVERY SINGLE DAY of the year. It is important for LGBTQ+ youth to know that there are safe and affirming people and places that can help them to deconstruct narratives, understand that there are infinite ways of being in this world, and to feel empowered to connect with their authentic selves.
To any LGBTQ+ human out there reading this, please know that I am here, I see you, I hear you, and I am with you.
The month of June is a time for Pride Parades. It is also a way for adults to show up as allies for LGBTQ+ youth. After attending a training, I discovered that there was a lot more I could do to show my support. This has included having a rainbow sign in my office to show that my office is a safe space for people to be themselves. I’ve also incorporated pronouns into my email signature so that others are aware that I am open to different ways people may identify themselves. There is still a lot more work to be done to support LGBTQ youth. Fortunately, there are now more and more resources out there that provide guidance on these topics.
I would recommend visiting The Trevor Project Website for tools on educating yourself on the difference between sex and gender, common mistakes, and what to do if you have made one. Those in the LGBTQ+ population already have enough stressors navigating their identity in the current climate. It is important that we do not place the burden of educating us on their shoulders. In addition, this could be a great time to check in with your own child on the topics surrounding LGBTQ+ youth.
These questions may not be easy to answer. But, for change to occur these discussions must be ongoing. Happy Pride Month!
Pride Month, which began as a commemoration of the Stonewall riots in late June of 1969, is an important celebration for those in the LGBTQ+ community where they join together to honor identity, promote acceptance, and highlight accomplishments of LGBTQ+ individuals throughout history and in their lives. In the spirit of togetherness, acceptance, and support, Pride welcomes allies. But what does being an ally look like? How does someone who doesn’t identify as LGBTQ+ actively support this community?
In my work, I have had the opportunity and privilege to continually learn about true inclusivity and grow my allyship. I get to connect with adults and students. I listen to their diverse experiences. And I have multiple platforms to share important information. As this is one of those platforms, I’d like to take the opportunity to share what I think are the most important steps anyone can take to support LGBTQ+ youth.
The fight for true equality is a shared responsibility. A wise teenager in the LGBTQ+ community shared that it is not a gay person’s responsibility or burden to educate others. If someone truly cares, they can show it by taking the initiative to learn. Take the initiative to educate themselves about the history, needs, fears, hopes, and contributions of the gay community.
When asked what the most important thing an adult needed to know/do to support LGBTQ+ youth, that same wise teenager said “Respect, Respect, Respect!” Being respectful means using appropriate names, pronouns, and gender. Deadnaming and misgendering a person is hurtful. On the other hand, respecting names and pronouns has a huge impact. The Trevor Project’s National Survey on Youth Mental Health 2021 provides related data:
As a woman who identifies as a cisgender heterosexual female, my journey is nowhere near complete. If you are reading this and wondering what “cisgender” means, use this as an opportunity to start learning and visit one of the resources listed above.
All humans need and deserve safety, security, connection, and love to survive and thrive in the world. In the words of Lin-Manuel Miranda “And love is love is love is love is love is love is love is love cannot be killed or swept aside.”
Happy Pride Month! Until next time, Be Wise!
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