News from AllianceQ: August/September 2016
Back to School for All Our Children
School has started and what should be a warm, caring, and nurturing environment for all children and young people is all too often anything but.
This recent article in the New York Times summarizes a report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the status of lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens in our high schools. (Apparently, the CDC is working on including trans students in the next iteration of this survey.)
The statistics from the CDC describe an appalling state of affairs in our high schools. The survey found that about 8 percent of the high school population described themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual. Among these students, the incidence of rape, substance abuse, depression, and other violence and risk factors is much higher than among their straight peers.
To put a fine but sad point on just one of these statistics: 29% of lesbian, gay or bisexual students reported a suicide attempt within the past year. This statistic is bad enough by itself. Yet, doing the math – 29% of 8% is more than 2% of all students, or approximately 1 in 40 of all students is a lesbian, gay or bisexual young person who has attempted suicide in the past year.
And notice that in a survey of students, we don’t know the number of completed suicides.
How many students are in your church? in your daughter’s high school class? in your grandson’s class? One in 40 of these students have attempted suicide in the past year related in part to the hostility directed towards lesbian, gay, and bisexual students.
Trans students certainly face at least as many hurdles as lesbian, gay, and bisexual students. Here is just one parent’s reflection on that struggle.
What can you do?
- Make sure that your church is welcoming LGBT people openly. Make sure that your community and especially the youth in your community know about the affirming welcome offered by your congregation. If your church isn’t already part of GLAD’s Open & Affirming Ministry Program, contact Mark Johnston, Executive Director of GLAD’s Open & Affirming Ministry Program (firstname.lastname@example.org) for guidance. (You can see if your church is already listed here.)
- Contact organizations such as PFLAG and GLSEN for information and ideas.
- Educate yourself. Find more resources on GLAD’s resource list for LGBT youth, about LGBT youth, about bullying and suicide, for parents, and about transgender people.