There's progress, but our LGBTQ youth are still suffering

Daniel LukenbillBy Daniel Lukenbill, youth services intern at Kansas City Anti-Violence Project

Within this last year the LGBTQ community as a whole has made great strides. Marriage was legalized, Caitlyn Jenner publicly transitioned, and President Barack Obama openly condemned conversion therapy.

We’ve definitely made progress, but we still have a long way to go. Specifically we need to start focusing on the problems within our youth.

Recent studies have concluded that 33 percent of LGBTQ youth between the ages of 16 and 20 meet criteria for any mental disorder, while the same number of youth have reported attempting suicide within their lifetime.

The lack of support, understanding, and general representation within both LGBTQ specific and general public spaces are still major problems for our youth. These problems can foster the bullying and alienation that lead to mental and emotional health issues prevalent within the youth of our community.

The CDC's official website proclaims that most LGBTQ youth are happy and thriving throughout their adolescent years. Yes, that should sound odd, considering the CDC goes on to offer solutions for schools and parents to help ease the health and academic issues that many LGBTQ youth specifically face. Why offer solutions for problems we’re refusing to even address? Compared to heterosexual youth, LGB youth are twice as likely to be depressed and contemplate suicide, and four times as likely to actually attempt suicide. For transgender youth, those rates are alarmingly higher.

At school 64 percent of LGBTQ students reported feeling unsafe, and 54 percent reported having their property deliberately stolen or damaged. We know the statistics. The first step is acknowledging these problems and being willing to actually discuss them. It’s time to stop hushing the topic of mental illness within LGBTQ youth. From there we can begin establishing safer spaces for youth with — and without — mental disorders, and promoting media representation featuring our younger LGBTQ community.

It can start now, but to do so, we need to face the problem itself.

This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.


I definitely believe that mental health and homelessness in LGBTQIA youth are the next things this country (and the rest of the world) has got to work on now that gay marriage has been legalized. it is definitely a problem that our society almost always refuses to talk about mental health in adolescents and especially in LGBT youth. good article!

Haaaaaaaaaa gaaaayyyyyyyyyyy

What an intelligent, clever, thoughtful comment! Thank you for this WONDERFUL feedback, this comment should very much help this conversation. -.-

I understand the heightened risk of gay people and suicide, but shouldn't you get help for all youth with mental diseases? What makes someone being gay more important in that aspect?

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About Bridget's Blog

Bridget McCandless

Bridget McCandless, MD, MBA, FACP, HCF President/CEO

Bridget McCandless is the President/CEO of the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and is a Board Certified Internal Medicine Specialist with an interest in chronic disease management and poverty medicine. She shares her thoughts and perspectives on health and policy issues that impact the health of the community as a whole.

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