How are young LGBTQ people coping with COVID-19? Especially as so many students must attend school virtually, if they’re still able to attend at all.

When schools and colleges closed in the spring, many queer youth lost access to supportive friends, social networks and school services.  Some found themselves ‘back home’ with families who are unsupportive or even hostile to their sexual orientation or gender identity.  And, like adults, many queer youth are also dealing with stress related to unemployment, homelessness, health concerns, divisive politics, racism, wildfires and other climate calamities … the list goes on.

Even before COVID-19 hit, queer young people were known to be at higher risk for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues.  In April, The Trevor Project – the world’s largest suicide and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth – reported that calls to its hotline had more than doubled under shelter-in-place orders.  More recently, the organization released the results of its 2020 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, which found that 40% of respondents had seriously considered a suicide attempt in the past year and nearly 70% reported symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder.

As many schools and colleges extend virtual learning into 2021 and mental health providers and nonprofits find themselves stretched even thinner, what support exists to help LGBTQ youth through this pandemic?

Guests and Resources:

–  Rayne Banneck is an associate marriage and family therapist working with Axis Mundi Center for Mental Health in the East Bay who specializes in treating members of the LGBTQ+ community. Rayne also leads the weekly LOUD (Loving Ourselves and Uniting Diversity) After-School Youth Program at The Pacific Center for Human Growth in Berkeley, which operates Alameda County’s only sliding scale mental health clinic for LGBTQ+ people and their families.

– Devin Green is the Volunteer Coordinator at the LGBT National Help Center. Devin’s role involves crisis call-taking, designing training materials, teaching new volunteers how to operate the organization’s peer-support hotlines, and supervising and supporting volunteers.  The LGBT National Youth Talkline number is 800-246-7743 and is available M-F 1pm – 9pm and Saturdays 9am – 2pm Pacific Time. (When LGBT National Youth Talkline is not available, the Trevor Lifeline operates 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.)

– Mauro Sifuentes is an educator for LGBTQ+ justice and LGBTQ Programs Coordinator at the San Francisco Unified School District.  Mauro encourages parents and students to email to reach Mauro and other staff for LGBTQ support services. See also SFUSD LGBTQ Student Services – What We Do

Also referenced on this week’s Out in the Bay: Open Path Collective, a non-profit therapy collective serving clients who lack health insurance or whose health insurance doesn’t provide adequate mental health benefits; LYRIC Center for LGBTQQ Youth; Huckleberry Youth Programs; and The Trevor Project, a national non-profit providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ young people under 25. The Trevor Project’s Trevor Lifeline operates 24/7 every day of the year at 1-866-488-7386.

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