One particular group that is often searching for a safe place where they can be who they want to be are the youth in the LGBTQ community (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer). Last week I went to a training by the Utah Pride Center and they shared some rather shocking statistics about these teens.
- LGBTQ youth are 3 times more likely than their straight peers to get pregnant or to get someone else pregnant
- 80 % of LGBTQ youth utilize some type of out of home care (foster care, group homes)
- 42 % of homeless youth identify as something other than “straight”
As a shelter care facility and a crisis agency for at-risk youth and their families, we see a much higher percentage of gay and lesbian youth than many youth-based programs. It’s important for us that youth and their families feel safe and comfortable to talk about their feelings and the struggles they are facing. The Utah Pride Center shared a number of tips that are helpful not only for our program but for anyone working with youth and for youth themselves. Here’s a few that stood out to me:
What Can I Do?
- If a youth comes out to you, Thank them for sharing
- Acknowledge that sharing their personal information can be scary
- Listen to youth and assess if they need resources
- Provide a safe environment through books, CD’s and DVD’s.
- Where possible, provide gender neutral bathrooms
- Use gender neutral language, ie “Are you dating someone?”
Because lesbian and gay youth are a minority, it is important for them and their families to be aware of resources and support groups where they can find others who they can relate to. Here is a list of local and national resources:
Local Resources for LGBTQ Youth:
- Utah Pride Center – Provides resources for all ages. Specific to youth programs include the TINT Youth Center, a Queer Youth Group and Queers in Action. They even host a Queer Prom in April.
- Volunteers of America Homeless Youth Resource Center – Services for youth include the Street Outreach Program, the Drop In Center and the Transition Home. The Street Outreach Program provides basic necessities through a mobile van, the Drop In Center provides up to 2 meals a day, showers and case management during the day. The Transition Home is temporary housing for girls 16-19 and includes case management and goal setting.
- Safe Place – Youth Services participates in a national Safe Place Program. Youth under age 18 can either go to a Safe Place site or come directly to Youth Services to get help fast. Youth spending the night will start at the Juvenile Receiving Center and can take a shower, eat and utilize the laundry facilities. Other free services include counseling and case management.
Local Resources for Family Members and Caregivers:
- PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) – offers support groups and educational materials. Chapters in Ogden, Salt Lake City and St. George
- COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) – support group run by and for youth 10-20 years old with parents in the LGBTQ community.
- Peer Listening Line for LGBT Youth 1-800-399-PEER — a confidential and anonymous hotline, a safe place to talk about coming out, information and referrals
- The Trevor Project 1-866-4-U-TREVOR — a 24-hour suicide line for LGBT youth
- National Runaway Switchboard 1-800-621-4000 — for youth who have or are thinking about running away