To Support LGBTQI+ Youth, Provide a Lighthouse

Pride Month provides an opportunity to celebrate progress toward equal treatment and inclusion and increase awareness about challenges the LGBTQI+ community faces. Unfortunately, some LGBTQI+ youth continue to experience discrimination, bullying, parental disapproval and/or social rejection, which can negatively impact mental health. As you can imagine, these challenges can be amplified if a young person also experiences discrimination due to their race/ethnicity, religion or socioeconomic background.

A resilient young adult leader, Jackie Malstrom, supports Native American youth of various gender and sexual identities. Malstrom understands challenges youth can face firsthand, and in a panel discussion, she encouraged LGBTQI+ youth to reach out to peers who might feel alone. In her words:

“Reach out and say, ‘Hey I’ve been there, and you have a place here with us.’ Remember that everyone’s on a different path and everyone’s at a different point in their journey, so look back and offer a place for those people because that’s how a community gets stronger and your voices grow louder and louder. It provides a lighthouse, if you will, in the darkness that is isolating.”

The panel was convened in January 2017 to identify strategies to support LGBTQI+ youth of color and was webcast on KSOC-TV, a web-based program series Vanguard produces with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

To learn more from Malstrom, family leaders and child health-serving professionals about how best to support LGBTQI+ youth, check out the on-demand discussion here: Intersecting Identities: Improving Health Outcomes for LGBTQI2-S Youth of Color.

May we provide a lighthouse for anyone in our community who feels isolated or unseen.