Lost and Found: LGBTQ Youth Crisis.

homeless-lgbtMany people believe now that marriage equality has been achieved that Gay Rights Movement is essentially over. That there is no longer a need for one. These folks couldn’t be more wrong. There are still many issues still facing LGBTQ+ persons in the western world. I’d like to bring your attention to what I consider the most urgent need in the community: Queer and Trans Youth homelessness. 

Did you know that 40 percent of homeless youth in America identify as LGBTQ? Further 68% of these youth were kicked out of their homes due to their sexual and gender identities. And a heart breaking 54% reported having experienced abuse at the hands of their families. Coming out is a really difficult and scary process, imagine on top of fear of bullying and peer rejection that you didn’t have the protection and support of your family?!

LGBTQ+ homeless youth are extremely vulnerable. They not only are more likely to experience depression and post traumatic stress disorders than their heterosexual peers but have an increased risk of exploitation and HIV. Most alarming of all is 62 percent of LGBTQ+ youth attempt suicide.

LGBTQ+ youth face real dangers and challenges in the communities and cultures which they are apart of due to homophobic beliefs systems. Regardless of new LGBTQ+ rights and laws, homophobic culture still exists and continues to oppress and discriminate against LGBTQ+ persons. It takes much longer to change beliefs systems and cultures then it does legislation. Establishing legal framework is just the first step, enforcing it and making the legal principals a part of culture can take generations. This is why the LGBTQ movement is still so very important.

So what can you to help fight LGBTQ+ homelessness? Here are a few easy things you can do.

  • Promote Love: Be an ambassador at school, home and among your peers. Talk about and promote LGBTQ+ equality and acceptance. Get others involved too.
  • Support LGBTQ+ youth at school and in your community. You never know who could be at risk of homelessness or homeless. Be-friend and be a good friend to Queer youth. Kindness goes a long way.
  • If someone you know is having problems at home, or has been kicked out. Encourage them to go to school support staff. Many shelters and programs exist that can help. Help them find resources to stay safe and warm.
  • Donate gently used clothes to shelters and organizations that house and care for LGBTQ+ youth.

Stay safe and love one another.



Natasha Obrien-HA, B, C, D, LGBTQ+

Writer, comedienne, career lesbian and blogger. You can find most of Tash’s thoughts at www.Effort-Lez.com

 

LGBTQ-abcdSo what’s in a name anyway? Well when we are talking about LGBTQ+ labels, a lot can be in a name. LGBTQ+ individuals use many different LGBTQ+ labels to self identify. A lot of self exploration goes into adopting a LGBTQ+ label. These labels are very rooted in identity and identity politics. So it’s very important to queer people that they are addressed with the right labels. Here is a quick reference list to help you get familiar with some of the most commonly used LGBTQ+ labels. 

 

Gay: A person who is attracted primarily to members of the same sex. Although it can be used for any sex, it is primarily used to refer to males who are attracted to other males 

 

Lesbian: A female who is attracted to other women.

 

Bisexual: A person who is attracted to both persons of both sexes. 

 

Transgender: Is an umbrella term used to identify persons who do not identify with their assigned gender at birth (CIS gender) or the binary gender system, for example, a person born biologically male who feels they are in fact female. Many transgendered people do not identify with the male-female gender binary. Rather, they feel they exist outside it or in between. Persons with this perspective can also overlap with GENDERQUEER.

 

Genderqueer: Genderqueer persons possess identities which reject the traditional male-female sexual binary. They do not feel they are either male or female, but rather a blend of the two or a third neutral gender. These persons may also identify as ADROGYNOUS 

 

Androgynous: Having an appearance that is gender neutral that posses characteristics of both sexes. 

 

Pansexual: A person who is attracted to persons of all gender identities and expressions. Including Trans and Genderqueer persons.

 

Queer: Is a general umbrella term used to refer to ANYONE from the LGBTQ+ community. If you are ever in doubt on what label to use to refer to someone you can always use this term.

 

So there you have it: a quick list of LGBTQ+ definitions. Remember, it’s always best practice to ask someone how they identify rather then assuming their sexuality and gender based on their appearance. When it comes to labels, it’s all about SELF identification. So let’s always honour how our friends choose to identify. 

 

Best xx

Tash 

 

Photo cred. www.StephGrantPhotography.com IG @imsteph @promotelovemovement #promoteLove



Natasha Obrien-H“That’s so gay!” – Queer kids and bullying by Tash.

Writer, comedienne, career lesbian and blogger. You can find most of Tash’s thoughts at www.Effort-Lez.com

 

GLSEN has been conducting school climate surveys for LGBTQ youth for the better part of 15 years. This week I looked through GLSEN’s (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network) most recent National School Climate Survey and was a little floored I must admit. When I compared this survey against their first, I was saddened to see just how many LGBTQ youth still suffer from bullying and harassment at school.

bullying-tashBullying is hot topic in schools. Schools and organizations have gone to great lengths to raise awareness and combat bullying however the numbers are still extremely concerning. 74.1% of LGBTQ students reported having been harassed because of their sexual orientation and 55.2% because of their gender expression. Let us compare this to the national bullying statistic for NON LGBTQ kids in the US being 1 in 4 (25%). LGBTQ youth are being victimized in schools at 2-3 times the national average. As a result of this more then half of LGBTQ kids report feeling unsafe at school.

Where once bullying only occurred during school hours youth today now have technology making bullying possible 24 hours a day. A whopping 42% of Queer kids report also having been cyberbullied.

We know bullying can cause self esteem issues, depression, anxiety, lead to missing school, poor grades, isolation and even suicide. It doesn’t have to be that way! There are many things everyone can do to help combat bullying and keep themselves and friends safe and happy. What can you do to help yourself and your friends? Check this list.

 

  • Don’t Bully. Obvi.
  • If you are being targeted by a cyberbully. it’s important not to respond. Keep a screen shot of messages and report them to a trusted adult. Mom, Dad, Teacher, counsellor.
  • Block and delete persons harassing you online.
  • Be a leader and promote LGBTQ positive messages online, at school and in conversation with friends. Be an ally and supporter.
  • If you see something happening step in and defend a friend. You have no idea the impact one person standing up and speaking up.
  • Always report threats of harm.
  • When in doubt or struggling contact any of these numbers for support or advice anytime.

In the U.S.: 1-866-4-U-TREVOR (488-7386)

In Canada: 1-877-OUT-IS-OK (688-1765)

In the UK: 0207 837 7324

In Australia: 1800 184 527

In New Zealand: (04) 473 7878

 

What are other ways you combat bullying at school? Tell us your tips and tricks in the comments below.

 

Photo compliments of Kelly Balch @kelly.balch #kellybalchphoto



 

Natasha ObrienYour teen years are all about discovering who you are. For many young people this is also the lifestage where they discover their sexuality and identify themselves. What I’m referencing here is “Coming Out”. Coming out can be a really exhilarating but also anxiety provoking process. It’s not the kind of thing you can do in one fell swoop, like ripping off a proverbial bandaid. It’s a process that needs to be repeated over and over again. It’s like public speaking for months/years straight. (Or not so straight in this case)~Natash

Writer, comedienne, career lesbian and blogger. You can find most of Tash’s thoughts at www.Effort-Lez.com

 

So what can you to support a friend coming out?

 

coming out-@cm077

  1. Talk to them about other OUT queer persons you know. This may make then feel more comfortable about you accepting them as well. Maybe even introduce them to other queer friends you know.
  2. Help find resources. If you feel your friend could benefit from more support maybe point them to organizations and LGBTQ clubs and organizations
  3. Do respect their confidentiality. It’s important to individuals coming out that their sexuality/gender identity is disclosed only to those they feel safe with when they feel comfortable doing so. You may be proud and want to celebrate your friend, but do refrain from sharing their news with others without their consent.
  4. As an LGBTQ ally its hard to imagine that people can be intolerant. Jerks do exist however and they may make appearances in your friends coming out process. LGBTQ persons face much discrimination. They worry about violence, job security, are bullied etc and their worries are legitimate. Be prepared to listen support and point to resources when necessary.
  5. Help them rehearse their coming out speech, write coming out letters and notes. For many people working up the confidence to say the words “ I’m Gay/Queer/Lesbian/Pansexual…” to important people in their lives is very difficult. Having a friend be a sounding board or re-read letters and offer reassurance can be that boost on confidence they need.
  6. Include and extend extra invites. Your friend may loose connections with friends and family along the way. Your friendship may be even more important to them now, especially during special occasions like the holidays.
  7. Make your friends a coming out card. Coming out is a celebration of identity! How do we celebrate most life events? With cards. Why not make a card that says something like “Congratulations you’re my Superqueero”
  8. Celebrate milestones. With every “Coming out” conversation you’re friend is closer to living openly as who they feel they are. Celebrate the successes!
  9. Most of all just act normal. Well as normal as you both were to begin with. Your friend hasn’t changed they are the same person. They still want to binge watch Netflix, make YouTube videos and kick your butt at swimming. So just go about being the duo you always have been. Business as usual.
Photo courtesy Instagram @cw077


We’re excited here at the Escape Club to be welcoming our new LGBTQ blogger Natasha. Tash will be writing in the new YOUR LIFE section about issues young people face (and having some fun along the way).

Natasha ObrienTash Says:

My name is Natash and I’m going to be your new LGBTQ contributor here in the Explorers Club. I’m a lesbian lifestyle blogger who’s obsessed with finding the funny in any situation. Basically I’m here, I’m queer, and I’m going to make you laugh while we hash out a variety of LGBTQ topics. If there any topics you want to hear about any questions on your mind fire them at me.

Bless xx

 

Read Tash’s bio:

1. Glamour is my life, and by glamour I mean eating dark chocolate in bed and watching anything by Lena Dunham.

2. I will sacrifice a relative for WIFI in emergency and non-emergency situations. (Emergency situation being defined as needing to post something I believe to be witty on Twitter)

3. Somedays I want to give it all up and become a Housewife of some American city. Then I remember fake nails and the short bald men that come with that empire, so I refocus.

4. I believe Jay-Z and I may very well share a father on account of our “Hustler’s Spirit”.

5. Llana Glazer is my Spirit Animal. K-Wiig is Queen. (Kristen, if you are reading this call me.)

 

Writer, comedienne, career lesbian and blogger. You can find most of Tash’s thoughts at www.Effort-Lez.com



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