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  • How to support young people who are getting bullied for their sexuality

    It’s not easy being a young person these days. There’s so much pressure to fit in and be like everyone else. Sadly many young LGBTQ+ people experience bullying over their sexuality or gender identity, something that can not only be emotionally distressing in the moment but have a significant impact on their long-term mental health and educational achievement, as well. 

    The good news is that LGBTQ+ youth no longer have to navigate the burdens of such difficult experiences as isolated and alone. Instead, you will find that there is plenty that you can do to support LGBTQ+ youths that are dealing with bullying, and help them thrive. Keep reading to find out more. 

    The impact of bullying on LGBTQ+ youth

    Before we get into the details of how you can support LGBTQ+ youth that is experiencing bullying, it’s important to highlight the very real negative impact that harassment and victimization due to sexuality and gender can have on people‚Äôs lives. 

    Mental health 

    Statistics show that compared to their heterosexual counterparts, LGBT youth are at much greater risk of self-harming behaviors. This includes being four times as likely to attempt suicide and 2.5 times as likely to self-harm after each instance of harassment. 

    Education 

    The harassment of victimization of LGBTQ+ youth also has a significant negative impact on their educational achievement. With LGBTQ+ youth students reported they missed at least a whole day at school within the last month because they felt unsafe. While those that suffered frequent harassment had lower grade averages than their counterparts. 

    Connect them with LGBTQ+ organizations

    Now we know how much of a devastating effect that bullying of LGBTQ+ youth can have, we can move on to ways that we can help and support people in this situation. The first of these is to demonstrate that they are not alone, by connecting LGBTQ+ youths with organizations that can help. 

    Some examples of these groups include the Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ young people; GLSEN, which works to create safe and inclusive schools for all students; and the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for equal rights for LGBTQ+ people.

    Encourage them to report bullying 

    While having the encouragement to report bullying can be hard for the victim, it is only by calling it out and showing that it is unacceptable to victimize people because of their sexuality or gender identity that we can hope to end this behavior. 

    Of course, such encouragement must be sensitive to the individual and the situation they find themselves in. Adding additional stress and pressure to the victim is not the goal here. To that end, supporting the person suffering from bullying to find a teacher, coach, parent, or school counselor, that they trust and that can work with them to deal with the bullying is usually the best approach. 

    Help to change the system 

    While offering help to those LGBTQ+ young people that are currently experiencing bullying is vital, making changes to the education system that will minimize the instances of harassment are too. 

    To that end, making sure that all institutions dealing with young people have robust anti-bullying policies that cover LGBTQ+ people is crucial. Additionally encouraging the formation of GSAs Gay-Straight Alliances offer a safe space for LGBTQ+ students, as well as encourage a more inclusive sense of community. 

    Help LGBTQ+ youth access a support network 

    There are many people that can offer support to LGBTQ+ youth including peers, teachers, and other adults as well as professionals. 

    Peer support can be particularly useful because it connects LGBTQ+ youth with people that are in a similar situation. This sense of community can be invaluable and can help them not only deal with situations such as bullying but many other aspects of their lives. 

    Teachers and other adults are other helpful resources when it comes to supporting LGBTQ+ youth with bullying over their sexuality. In particular, adults that are members of groups such as GLSEN that are trained to offer advice in this situation can be a great first line of defense in the fight to end such harassment. 

    Lastly, mental health professionals can be an invaluable resource for LGBTQ+ youth that are struggling with bullying over their sexuality. In particular, trained therapists can offer strategies such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) which can provide practical ways to deal with both the mental health and educational effects that bullying due to sexuality can bring. Additionally, many therapists will be able to offer trauma counseling which can be a vital stage in the healing process that bullied LGBTQ+ must go through to go on to live their best lives.