A Guide for Understanding, Supporting, and Affirming LGBTQI2-S Children, Youth, and Families
A new guide provides information for educators, human service providers and allies about supporting the health and well-being of children and youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex and/or two-spirit (LGBTQI2-S) and their families.
A Guide for Understanding, Supporting, and Affirming LGBTQI2-S Children, Youth, and Families addresses biases and myths, and discusses why supporting the health, mental health and well-being of children and youth who are LGBTQI2-S is crucial. The guide provides tips and resources for improving services and enhancing positive life outcomes for these children and youth.
“I feel I was lucky enough to have staff that are understanding and respectful of LGBTQ teens, because even though some of the students aren’t…I knew I would always have a few teachers to talk and share with,” said a 2011 respondent to the National School Climate Survey sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. “LGBTQ teens need that. They need to know that they’re safe.”
Many LGBTQI2-S children and youth experience bias, discrimination and rejection. Research has found that compared with heterosexual youth, those who are LGBT experience higher levels of harassment, victimization and violence—including verbal, physical, and sexual abuse. These experiences contribute to increased mental health challenges, substance use, running away from home, homelessness, sexual risk-taking behavior, self-harm and suicide attempts. Research also indicates that young people who are LGBT and experience high levels of family rejection are much more likely to attempt suicide and use illegal drugs than are those from families that express little or no rejection.
This guide was developed by members of the National Workgroup to Address the Needs of Children and Youth Who Are LGBTQI2-S and Their Families, supported by the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It is endorsed by the National Association of School Psychologists. Jeffrey Poirier of AIR coordinates the Workgroup and is lead author of the guide through a contract with SAMHSA.