All teens deserve to feel safe, understood and valued in their families and communities. Often LGBTQ+ teens experience higher rates of bullying and struggle with mental illnesses like anxiety and depression. According to a 2018 report published by the Human Rights Campaign, 67% of LGBTQ+ youth hear their families make negative comments about LGBTQ+ people. Additionally, 77% of LGBTQ+ youth report receiving "unwanted sexual comments, jokes and gestures in the past year." To help combat hate and support LGBTQ+ teens in our community, members of Canton Public Library's Teen Leadership Council compiled the following list of guidance and resources for LGBTQ+ teens and allies.
Advice on Coming Out Safely
Coming out can be a seminal moment in an LGBTQ+ person's life. If you're thinking about coming out, consider the following ideas.
- Know if it's safe to come out and who you trust to share your identity with
- Plan ahead so you know what you need to communicate
- Choose the method you're most comfortable with—over the phone, in person, etc.
- Try to find a private moment to express your feelings
- Have an honest conversation, don't feel like you have to beat around the bush
- Don't apologize, it can create stress in the other person's mind
- Make sure to tell them who it is safe to use name/pronouns around (if applicable)
- There's no right way to come out, do whatever feels comfortable when it feels comfortable
How To Support Your LGBTQ+ Friends
A lot of queer people don't come out or are afraid to come out because they feel they won't be supported. If you’re not queer yourself, you may not know how to help your queer friends feel more accepted and safe. Here are some ways that that you can support your LGBTQ+ friends.
- Don't make their identity or sexuality about you
- Appreciate that they took a risk to share a very important part of their lives with you
- Learn about various identities and different genders
- Don't share someone's identity with others unless they allow you to
- Speak up against prejudice when you see it
- Don't be afraid to ask questions
- Make sure that your LGBTQ+ friends know that you love and support them
- Make sure to be respectful
Differences Among Sex, Gender, and Gender Expression
Learning the differences between sex, gender, and gender expression may seem confusing. However, it is an important part of not only fighting transphobia, but also supporting those around you.
- Gay: A person who identifies as a man who is attracted to other men
- Lesbian: A person who identifies as a woman and is attracted to other women
- Asexual: A person who does not experience any sexual attraction
- Bisexual/Pansexual: A person who experiences sexual attraction to people of any gender
- Aromantic: A person who experiences little to no romantic attraction
- Nonbinary: A person who doesn't identify with being a man or woman
- Transgender: A person who doesn't identify with their AGAB (assigned gender at birth)
- Queer: A person who isn't sure of their sexuality or doesn't agree with any one label
- Genderfluid: A person who feels as though they are a different gender at different times
- Polyamorous: A person who may feel attraction to more than one individual
Online Safe Spaces
If you're looking for guidance and support, these websites seek to provide safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth. Explore them now to find a place that makes you feel comfortable and seen.
- 7 Cups - On-demand emotional health service and online therapy provider
- The Asexual Visibility & Education Network - The world's largest online asexual community as well as a large archive of resources on asexuality
- TrevorSpace - An affirming international community for LGBTQ+ young people ages 13-24
- GLSEN Safe Space Kit - the Safe Space Kit is GLSEN’s "Guide to Being an Ally to LGBTQ Students"
- Private LGBTQ+ Facebook Groups, blogs on Tumblr, and other social media platforms may also be good spaces to connect with other LGBTQ+ people online