LGBTQIA+ Teens in a Pandemic
The world has become an apocalyptic dystopia, and everyone is struggling. For LGBTQIA+ teens, the pandemic has exacerbated struggles they already face.
Social distancing separates teens from their friends, which can be especially hard for many queer adolescents whose only opportunity to be fully themselves is with people outside their families. Most people who are LGBTQIA+ come out to their friends long before coming out to family members, and a queer teen’s support system is often their friends. Despite the fact that many teenagers have access to technology and are still able to communicate with friends, the loss of face-to-face contact can be devastating.
Trans teens who aren’t out to their families or whose families are unaccepting are now constantly called by their deadnames, the names they were assigned at birth, as well as incorrect pronouns; however, at school with accepting friends, trans teens are called by their preferred names and pronouns. Furthermore, queer teens of any identity aren’t able to talk about struggles related to their queerness with friends who may be going through a similar experience because of the distance created by the pandemic. Despite the physical proximity to family, many LGBTQIA+ teens are forced to suffer in silence.
Teenagers who have come out to unaccepting parents or family members can face emotional and physical abuse, homelessness, and depression. All of these issues can be amplified because the pandemic makes it harder to get help. Many families are now always home together, which means that people have little to no privacy. Hiding your sexuality or gender identity becomes much more challenging and stressful in these close quarters. Video calls and other communication that require speaking aloud aren't an option for closeted teens unless they have access to a soundproof or private area. Even their texts and other forms of communication with friends may not be a safe space for closeted teenagers to talk about their identity since many parents check their children’s devices. Moreover, spending so much time with family members makes it much harder on closeted teens mentally to keep their identity a secret. They can feel trapped and extremely isolated. They may also feel pressured to come out even if they aren’t ready to do so.
While the above scenarios are by no means comprehensive, hopefully they have helped you empathize with what young LGBTQIA+ people are going through right now. We all need to support each other during this challenging time, and considering what others may be experiencing is an important part of that.
There are many resources to support LGBTQIA+ youth. The Trevor Project is an organization that seeks to prevent suicide in LGBTQIA+ youth and young adults. They have a suicide prevention hotline and many resources. GLAAD is an organization that fights for LGBTQIA+ equality and acceptance. They also maintain an extensive list of resources. For family members with a queer loved one, PFLAG is an organization that provides educational resources, which can help them fully accept the LGBTQIA+ people in their lives.