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LGBTQ kids are just kids
LGBTQ youth are kids.
Like all youth, LGBTQ kids and teens have the same worries and fears as the other kids in their schools. They worry about their grades. They get nervous when they have to do something outside their comfort zone. They want friends at school who they can laugh with and hang out with on the weekends.
They just want to be accepted for who they are. Like all kids.
Beech Brook has been helping kids and their families for over 170 years in ways that will help them thrive in their communities. And some of those youth that Beech Brook serves are children and teens who identify as LGBTQ.
These youth face the same issues that their heterosexual and cisgender (those who identify with the sex they were identified with from birth) peers face at school – except they are much more likely to be rejected by their family and face discrimination based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, which would impact any youth’s mental health.
According to the Trevor Project’s survey on the mental health of LGBTQ youth, 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth attempted suicide.
As the discourse against the LGBTQ community has escalated across the country (see CEO Tom Royer’s thoughts on the subject), Beech Brook staff are there to support and advocate for the kids they work with who identify in any manner they choose.
The Trevor Project also found that LGBTQ youth who felt high social support from their family reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt low or moderate social support. And unfortunately, fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth found their home to be gender-affirming.
One of Beech Brook’s Therapeutic Behavior Specialists, Madison Moser, has worked with numerous youth who identify as gay, bisexual, or gender fluid, and she sees first-hand how much support for these children matters to their emotional well-being. And that support doesn’t just come from parents. It can come from their peers, the school administration, and mental health agencies like Beech Brook that provide a safe environment for children to grow and thrive.
“I’m so proud of my clients for living their lives so unapologetically, despite the lack of familial support that exists for some of the kids I’ve worked with,” Madison says. “Some of the students in one of the high schools I work in started a Gender and Sexual Alliance Group for teens who identify as LGBTQ, which has been great for youth who just want to be with some like-minded peers facing similar issues.”
Madison recalls working with a transgender high school senior who was making decisions about college. Along with the normal concerns that accompany college choice, such as finances, program of study, and location, transgender teens, in particular, have additional considerations. “His main concern was safety. He needed to go to school in an environment that would allow him to be himself without becoming a potential target for controversy… or worse,” she says. “But I’m so impressed with their ability to shut out the hate,” which becomes easier when LGBTQ kids have caring peers and adults who accept them.
Beech Brook has been there to help the youth of our community since 1852 – and the LGBTQ youth who are struggling are no different. While adults across the country debate their right to exist, it is helpful to remember that these are just kids trying to live their lives in the way that will make them happy. They just want to be accepted, like all kids.
And Beech Brook will always accept and support them to help them thrive.
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