June/July 2020




  • 42% of LGBT youth say the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people.

  • 75% of LGBT youth say that most of their peers do not have a problem with their identity as LGBT

  • 68% of LGBT youth say they hear negative messages about being LGBT from elected leaders.

  • LGBT youth are twice as likely as their pers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked or shoved.

  • 26% of LGBT youth say their biggest problems are not feeling accepted by their family and trouble at school/bullying.


LGBTQIA Youth Experiences: The Importance of Familial & School Support

LGBTQIA youth face increased levels of stigma, discrimination, and victimization in a society where they often feel marginalized and disconnected (Wilson & Cariola, 2020). LGBTQIA teens are more likely to experience rejection, physical violence, and bullying than their heterosexual counterparts. Research shows they are at an increased risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors and report higher rates of sexual risk behavior, homelessness, and substance abuse. When provided with support, they are less likely to engage in high-risk behavior (Bouris et al., 2010). Research suggests that LGBTQIA teens experience better health outcomes when their parents support their sexual orientation in positive and affirming ways. LGBTQIA youth who feel valued by their parents are less likely to experience depression, use drugs and alcohol, attempt suicide, or become infected with sexually transmitted diseases (Bouris et al., 2010). Parents’ response to their LGBTQIA youth can have a tremendous impact on their youth’s physical and mental health. Supportive feedback can help adolescents cope and thrive. Parents and educators can help teens navigate negative attitudes they may experience in various settings (Espelage, Aragon, & Birkett, 2008).  Schools can implement procedures and evidence-based policies to promote a healthy environment as LGBTQIA youth are more likely to feel unsafe, experience threats of violence, and miss class due to their experiences in the school setting (Saewyc et al., 2014). Feeling socially, emotionally, and physically safe and supported is essential for youth to thrive in their schools and communities (Espelage, Aragon, & Birkett, 2008). LGBTQIA youth of color face immense challenges as they maneuver interconnected forms of discrimination.


Their experiences are magnified by anti- LGBTQIA as well as biases based on their race, ethnicity, and culture. Research by Russell, Clarke & Laub (2009) stated one-third of students who experience bullying are harassed due to their sexual orientation and ethnicity, which makes them more likely to feel unsafe in the school and community settings. Bullying based on sexual orientation, race, or gender identity were prominent for youths of color in the LGBTQIA community. In addition to these challenges, they reported experiencing discipline disparities citing harsher punishment than their cis-gendered heterosexual or white LGBTQIA peers. Disparities included victim-blaming, criminalization of LGBTQIA youth of color, as well as harassment and bullying by school officials (Russell et al., 2009) These disparities must be addressed so LGBTQIA youth can find support and validation in the home, school, and community setting.

Ways to Support LGBTQIA Students

Post Safe Space Signs
Designate your classroom as a place students can feel safe and welcomed by utilizing stickers or posters in your classroom or door.

Start an LGBTQIA Organization in Your School
Groups can provide support for LGBTQIA students by promoting wellness and fostering safe and affirming school environments.

Provide Professional Development to Teachers, Adminnistration, and Support Staff
Promoting workshops and professional development while educating staff on best practices and providing a space for continued learning will aid your school in becoming more inclusive, safe and affirming for LGBTQIA youth.

(Barile, n.d.)

Ways Parents Can Support LGBTQIA Youth

 Lead with Love
If you don’t have the words , a hug can speak volumes

Listen with Intention
Give your child the opportunity to open up and share their thoughts and feelings.

 Learn the Terms
Learning more is a great way to improve communication and validate your LGBTQIA youth’s experience.



GLSEN (formerly the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network)
info@glsen.org, For more info call: (212)727-0135.

Trevor Lifeline, Crisis and Suicide Prevention Lifeline for LGBTQ Youth
24/7 helpline free and confidential helpline: 1-866-488-7386
TrevorText- Text START to 678-678

Lambda Legal
American Civil Rights Organization focusing on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender legal needs.
New Jersey – National Headquarters (212) 809-8585

Trans Lifeline
Transgender, non-binary, and gender questioning people
1 (877)-565-8860

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org or call 1(800)273-TALK (8255)

 Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG)
Visit www.pflag.org to find a chapter near you.


Barile, N. (n.d.) 5 things you can do to support LGBTQ students. Retrieved from https://www.wgu.edu/heyteach/article/5-things-you-can-do-support-your-lgbtq-students1809.html

 Beyond Bullying: how hostile school climate perpetuates the school to prison pipeline for lgbt youth (2014). Retrieved from http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/lgbt/report

 Bouris, A., Guilamo-Ramos, V., Pickard, A., Shiu, C., Loosier, P. S., Dittus, P., Gloppen, K., & Michael  Waldmiller, J. (2010). A systematic review of parental influences on the health and well-being of lesbian, gay,and bisexual youth: time for a new public health research and practice agenda. The Journal of Primary Prevention, 31(5-6), 273–309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-010-0229-1

Espelage, D.L., Aragon, S.R., & Birkett, M. (2008). Homophobic teasing, psychological outcomes, and sexual     orientation among high school students: What influence do parents and schools have? School Psychology Review, 37, 202-216.

Russell, S.T., Clarke, T.J., & Laub, C. (2009). Understanding school safety and the intersections of race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. [California Safe Schools Coalition Research Brief], San Francisco, CA.

Saewyc, E. M., Konishi, C., Rose, H. A., & Homma, Y. (2014). School-Based Strategies to Reduce Suicidal Ideation, Suicide Attempts, and Discrimination among Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Adolescents in Western Canada. International journal of child, youth & family studies : IJCYFS5(1), 89–112.

 Wilson, C., Cariola, L.A. LGBTQI+ Youth and Mental Health: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research. Adolescent Research Review, 5, 187–211 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-019-00118-w

 Written By: Michelle Pigott, M.A.