LGBTQ+ Pride plays a crucial role in promoting inclusivity and understanding. Young people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer are too often at risk. Pride is an event that shows them they belong.
Young LGBTQ+ individuals are at greater risk for poor mental health, violence, and homelessness than their non-LGBTQ+ peers.
According to the CDC’s health risk and behavior survey:
- In 2021, 69% of LGBTQ+ youth reported feeling persistently sad and hopeless. For heterosexual youth, that figure was 35%.
- LGBTQ+ youth consistently report higher rates of bullying, being threatened or injured with a weapon, and dating violence. They are also more likely to miss school because of safety concerns.
- Disparities are particularly pronounced in the areas of sexual violence. LGBTQ+ students are four times as likely to experience forced sex.
The importance of LGBTQ+ pride
By April of 2023, a record number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills had already been introduced in U.S. state legislatures. The American Civil Liberties Union tallied at least 417, more than double the number for all of 2022.
Students Demand Action is a group of young activists that recognizes the importance of claiming and celebrating LGBTQ+ identities to show that they will not be silenced or erased despite legislative attacks on this community. In their own words:
Aydin, he/him - “Pride is a celebration of courage and strength during a time of injustice and divisiveness. Pride is love and unity in the face of hate and bigotry. Pride is a testament to the battle for equality that LGBTQ+ people have fought for decades.”
Sara, they/xe/she - “I think it’s the perfect word for us, and especially for LGBTQ+ youth, because we should be proud. It’s so important for us to know that our voices matter. We deserve the right to be happy and celebrate who we are.”
Peren, any pronouns - “Pride reminds us that our community is stronger than hate. It shows young LGBTQ+ people that we will not succumb to the false idea that we should be ashamed of our identities.”
Evelyn, she/they/he - “With all of the anti-LGBTQ+ legislation this year, this Pride is a time to find happiness in all of the darkness. Pride gives hope to young queer people and can be a place where they can see people like them being free and happy.”
Building supportive communities
Many young people who identify as LGBTQ+ often feel isolated or misunderstood, which can lead to feelings of loneliness and vulnerability. Pride events bring together individuals who share similar experiences and provide a safe and inclusive space where they can connect, share stories, and find support.
These communities offer young LGBTQ+ individuals a chance to forge friendships, form support networks, and gain a sense of belonging. They provide an invaluable support system that helps young people cope with the challenges they may encounter, such as coming out to family and friends or facing discrimination at school. By fostering these connections, LGBTQ+ Pride empowers young individuals to thrive and face adversities with resilience.
LGBTQ+ Pride is essential for young people as it fosters self-acceptance, builds supportive communities, and combats discrimination. Pride celebrates diversity and promotes equality, creating an environment where young LGBTQ+ individuals can be their authentic selves without fear or judgment.
YIPA believes that youth work is social justice work. It is our responsibility to support and uplift young LGBTQ+ individuals. We advocate for a more inclusive and accepting world so that every young person can grow up feeling loved, accepted, and proud of who they are.
About the author
Barbara Van Deinse is the operations director of the Youth Intervention Programs Association (YIPA), a non-profit association of youth-serving organizations. We're your source for exceptional, affordable, personal and professional online learning via The Professional Youth Worker. Join us!
To ask Barbara a question or share your feedback about this blog, email [email protected].