The Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health (OCMH), in their June newsletter, cited an increased risk for online and in-person bullying of LGBTQ children.
An LGBT Youth Report for the state of Wisconsin found:
- 46.7% experience dating or sexual violence
- 45.9% self-harming in the last year
- 43.8% experienced bullying of any kind
- 16.4% missing school in the last month due to fear for safety
“LGBT youth are more likely to consider and attempt suicide when compared to cisgender and straight youth,” the OCMH newsletter reads. “A study by the Trever Project showed that 40% of LGBT youth and over 50% of transgender and nonbinary youth had serious suicidal ideation.”
Furthermore, LGBTQ youth whose pronouns were more correctly used by others most or all of the time had lower rates of suicide attempts.
The OCMH offers several tips for parents, community members, policy makers and schools to help foster a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ youth:
- Participate in a parent education group and learn more from resources such as The Trevor Project and GLAAD.
- Provide youth access to LGBT support groups.
- Improve bullying policies by incorporating specific language regarding harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Educate staff about creating a positive social climate by using correct pronouns, reducing gendered language, and soliciting feedback from students.
- Create support organizations, clubs and safe spaces for LGBT youth such as a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA), a student-led group that connects LGBT youth and allies.
- Policy Makers
- Support the Equality Act which would improve antidiscrimination policies for public spaces and add protections for LGBT people.
- Provide educational opportunities to support parental acceptance and understanding of their LGBT youth.
And compared to the general population, LGBTQ youth experience higher rates of mental health issues, stemming from discrimination and a lack of acceptance where they seek it.
“These youth may experience barriers to healthcare as well as homelessness, violence and a lack of acceptance from family, friends and the community,” the OCMH fact sheet says. “LGBT youth need more access to resources and support to increase mental health.”
However, there are programs in the state that provide services to LGBTQ youth, such as PRISM, which is a new pilot program aimed to “connect LGBTQ+ youth (16-26 years old) in Wisconsin with trained peer-specialists who can provide mental and emotional support and mentorship,” according to the Mental Health of America Wisconsin website.
Another initiative, Project Q, was developed by the Milwaukee LGBT Community Center with the goal in mind to “promoting leadership activities, allowing youth to express themselves freely without judgement, and focusing on improving youth mental health and well-being.”
If you know a child struggling or a parent who wants to know more, start them at these resources. If you are not in the state of Wisconsin, please do your part to research local resources that may help save someone’s life.