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How you can help improve the lives of LGBTQ+ youth in Virginia

Posted at 4:20 PM, Jan 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-10 18:45:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Four out of every 10 LGBTQ+ youth in the Southern United States have considered taking their own life and 16 percent have actually tried, according to the Trevor Project.

Alexander Campbell, 16, who lives in a rural part of Virginia, said one reason behind the statistic could be the lack of kindness and acceptance in the world.

“Students consistently make homophobic remarks and slurs to LGBTQ youth," Campbell said. “Not only are they being attacked by the community and by their peers, but also when they're reaching out to people for help.”

For those reasons, Campbell said the Trevor Project findings were not a surprise.

The Trevor Project, which works to support LGBTQ+ youth, found LGBTQ+ youth in the South were nine percent more likely to attempt suicide than those in other parts of the country.

“LGBTQ youth are consistently in the need for safe spaces," Campbell said. "They need legitimate resources and particularly mental health resources.”

For some impacted youth, those resources have proven to be hard to find.

Forty-six percent of Southern queer youth called their community unaccepting of them. They also reported lower rates of access to affirming home, school, and workplace.

As teenagers transition into young adulthood, they begin to question their own identity and how they fit into the world.

Counselor Mark Loewen said he encourages adults and allies to allow LGBTQ+ youth to be open and not to keep secrets.

“At some point, [by keeping secrets] I'm going to become very anxious. I'm going to become depressed. It’s going to be too heavy," Loewen said.“What makes somebody want to kill themselves? Either this pain is too unbearable, or the world would be better off without me.”

Loewen said it was important to make sure people have room to express themselves.

In addition to asking schools to provide more mental health resources for LGBTQ+ youth, Campbell said he wanted struggling young people to know things would get better.

"There are people out there who support them," he said.

Here are some links Loewen suggested for families who need them:

For teens
Zoe Therapy Services
Side By Side

For students and educators:
GLSEN Richmond

For parents:
He, She, Ze and We [facebook.com]
PFLAG Richmond [pflagofrichmond.org]
Mothers and Others of VA [facebook.com]

To support the LGBTQ community in RVA:
Virginia Pride
Diversity Richmond
Health Brigade

For counseling, including online counseling throughout Virginia:
LaunchPad Counseling (Loewen's practice)
QueerWell
Richmond Creative Counseling
Resilience Counseling

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