True Struggles of the LGBTQIA+ Community

October 6, 2023

It should come as no surprise to anyone that the LGBTQIA+ community is at a high risk for the deterioration of mental health. 

Within the last 7 years there has been a substantial increase in anti-queer legislation throughout the United States. The risk for the queer community has risen to a threshold point that the Human Rights Campaign has issued a state of emergency for this community starting in June of 2023. Based on laws recently passed, as well as the increase of violence, this state of emergency includes states that have been deemed unsafe to travel. The level of unrest and anxiety within the queer community is increasing with no known end in sight.

In this blog we are going to look at the common traumas and risk factors experienced by the LGBTQIA+ community that make them a high risk for mental health issues and what we can do to help.


Statistics of Traumas Experienced

Let’s start with the queer youth and the serious traumas that they are currently facing. Queer youth report being harassed in school at a rate of 75%, physically assaulted is reported to be at 35%, and sexual violence at their school is at a rate of 12%. Moreover, they are experiencing an increase of
rejection stimming from religious organizations. The rejection that can come from non-religious families can be painful. Now imagine how much more difficult and scarier the unknown responses from being raised in a religious setting could potentially be for these youth. The risk for them could range from hiding their truth, being kicked out of their homes, disowned, or sometimes even physically harmed. This is not to say that there is no loving, inclusive families that support their children. However, it is the fear of the unknown that can keep someone from feeling safe to tell their truth, which, in turn, can cause anxiety and depression. An unfortunate outcome to these traumatic experiences can also lead these youths to suicidalities. With the increase of anti queer legislation and the rise in violence toward them, this should come as no surprise. There is hope, though. There are a multitude of organizations out there working with the queer youth to help support them, as well as their families and/or allies.

The adults also continue to struggle with discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil rights, harassment, and family rejection. Complex trauma continues to be commonplace within the LGBTQIA+ community. They are two to four times more likely than any other group to have mental health issues;
that number increases depending on their ethnicity, culture, and the area that they live in.

Imagine being a part of this community, with one or more children, wanting to go on a vacation or visit family out of state. You would have to not only do the typical preparations for the trip, but you'd also have to consider what route you are going to take, as well as where you're staying, and ask yourself,
"Is it safe for my family and I? Do we still go and hope nothing happens? Do we ask our friends and family to come visit us? Or do we risk not seeing our friends and family altogether?" There are so many things to consider just trying to do normal, everyday things with your family and loved ones; the
mundane and things that would never cross the minds of a heteronormative. This is a constant trickle of fear that is delt with by these families. It is no wonder they struggle with mental health conditions, is it not?


How to Help

The best way to help is to, first, BE INFORMED and spread the information you've learned here today. Understanding the issues faced by this community, and educating others, opens opportunities of safety and freedom to those who can often be left feeling hopeless. As clinicians, we need to be trauma informed, create safe places for everyone, and be especially mindful of those who are, at a legal level, at risk of human rights and opportunities taken from them; the LGBTQIA+ community and allies. We can, furthermore, help by educating ourselves on the common struggles happening today, with resources at their disposal within their community, and following up with them. Learning about the different parts of their community and their unique struggles while holding space for them and learning how to support them through your words, insight, and advocacy, is what it will take for them to feel safe. Feeling safe means, they have avenues to grow without limitations and become the best versions of themselves.
This, in turn, means less mental health setbacks. Be open minded, and teachable, when approached with new language, mislabeling, or misunderstandings when being corrected by the LGBTQIA+ community or allies. You can join a foundation, or non-profit organization in order to help provide resources to this community in support as well as provide personal and professional wisdom. Be willing to stand UP for them as well as stand BY them. Stating that you are an ally is not enough. There needs to be action, consistent dedication, and support with them in this fight, whether individually or as a whole in the LGBTQIA+ community. We are all human and deserve to be able to live our lives with no fear of retaliation. While this can feel challenging and uncomfortable, change does not happen without feelings of uncomfortableness. I think we can all agree, this disservice to humankind needs to be challenged and for you to be a part of a much-needed positive change.