LGBTQ+ Teens In Quarantine

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Elizabeth Liatsos, Staff Writer

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge impact on the mental health of so many people, but has disproportionately affected adolescents of the LGBTQ+ community. Separation from schools and the students there can be a good thing for teenagers, as it gives them a break from schoolwork and allows them to relax a little. But for many LGBTQ+ students, school is the only place they can openly be themselves. Quarantining with an unsupportive family can push people back in the closet.

The pandemic has affected LGBTQ+ communities at a higher rate. Physically, there is a difference in infection rates in the community. Poorer and more vulnerable communities have had more cases of COVID-19 than wealthier areas. According to True Colors United, an organization created to fight youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ people are 120% more likely to fall homeless than their cisgender, heterosexual counterparts for a number of reasons, many having to do with being kicked out of their homes or being denied jobs because of their identity. They also say that 20-40% of homeless youth around the country identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. Because of this, the physical health of many LGBTQ+ people has been compromised.

The mental health of teenagers in the LGBTQ+ community is much poorer than their cisgender, heterosexual peers to begin with. They are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or attempt suicide. Transgender and nonbinary teenagers who don’t have their pronouns or name respected at home have double the risk of attempting suicide. With the added stress of the pandemic, and the constant interaction with unsupportive family members, those numbers have risen. 

Closing schools hasn’t helped with that. Of course, it was necessary to close schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but there are many students who only get the support they need from teachers or other students. Cutting off that access to support forced many people back into the closet. Gay Straight Alliance clubs, or GSAs, are often the only support a person can get. With the pandemic, many clubs have had to be temporarily shut down, so many students could not get the support they need.

But with everyone’s help, these negative statistics can go down. Transgender and nonbinary youth who have at least one adult, whether it be a parent, teacher, or someone else, who respects their pronouns and their name are 40% less likely to attempt suicide. Supporting students who come out and treating them with respect can lower depression and anxiety rates. These mental illnesses aren’t a side effect of being part of the LGBTQ+ community, they exist because of the lack of support in the world. Doing or saying one small thing to be supportive could change someone’s world. 

 

Mental Health Resources:

Remember, you are not alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help. You are valid. You are important. You are appreciated.