Recent developments in LGBTQ rights and their rise were out of the question only a few years ago. From marriage equality to the increased visibility of LGBT people in the media, popular culture and public opinion have shifted to become more inclusive, accepting, and open. However, despite these gains, life is still a challenge for far too many LGBTQ people.
The Human Rights Campaign called 2021 “the worst year for LGBTQ legislative attacks” since 2015, the year equality in marriage became US law. “More than 250 anti-LGBTQ bills were introduced in state legislatures across the country in 2021,” the Human Rights Council notes.
Fortunately, many LGBTQ organizations work to combat discrimination and meet the needs of LGBTQ youth, no matter where they are in the country and on their next trip. I spoke to many of these groups to understand how they use their resources to help LGBT youth.
Since 1998, The Trevor Project has been the largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBT youth in the world. It has the only 24/7 helpline of its kind in the United States, which connects LGBT youth with trained counselors.
For those who aren’t ready to talk to someone, the Trevor Project has also instructed soothing meditation exercises to help you control your breathing and stay present. Their website also provides many resources for getting out that can be useful in solving questions within yourself and among friends and family.
Throughout the pandemic, the Trevor Project has also adapted in innovative ways, including by embracing artificial intelligence.
“We have launched a counselor training technology called Crisis Contact Simulator, which will allow us to triple our counselor base in 2021 and reach more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth in the United States who we estimate are seriously considering suicide each year,” John Caleri, Vice President Chief Technology Officer at The Trevor Project.
Powered in partnership with Google.org, this simulator uses artificial intelligence to more efficiently connect gay and at-risk youth with trained counselors.
Our model uses open-ended questions like ‘What’s going on? “Young people can answer on their own terms, and it has been shown to significantly outperform traditional methods,” says Calleri.
Project Trevor says the pandemic has been particularly hard on LGBTQ youth, and part of the reason can be attributed to school closures, leaving many children “trapped in unsupportive or even abusive home environments, resulting in a loss of positive social connections,” says Calleri. .
Instead, young people are turning to social media to validate it. “Watching LGBTQ People on YouTube and TikTok” is frequently cited as ways LGBTQ youth find joy and strength, according to the Trevor Project’s 2021 National Poll.
A Trevor Project advisor can be reached by phone at 1-866-488-7386 or by texting “START” to 678-678.
PFLAG is the first and largest organization in the United States that aims to bridge the gap between the family and friends of LGBT people. They have more than 400 branches in the country to connect families at the regional level to support their LGBT children.
At the start of the pandemic, PFLAG quickly adapted its mission to become virtual. In just five days, we launched PFLAG Connects, a way to meet our LGBTQ+ families and loved ones through virtual meetings with local branch members, and live national events like Something to Talk About Live, weekly PFLAG binds Jamie Curtis, Branch Engagement Manager at PFLAG says: