By The Rural Youth Catalyst Project
Today and every day, we honor and celebrate all the courageous LGBTQ young people that choose visibility and choose to openly be their full authentic selves. We also know that despite the celebratory social media memes and Netflix ads, for many rural young people, coming out is a fierce and precarious act of resistance and survival.
We invite you to join us. At the Rural Youth Catalyst Project, we want all LGBTQ youth to know that we see you. We respect you. We love you unconditionally. We have, and still do, walk in your shoes. And most of all, we continue to fight for your right to find your person regardless of their gender, to live in the body that you chose, and to not just be safe from violence but to remain in, or return to, your rural community and be welcomed everywhere with the same opportunities to thrive.
Why We Care:
The Trevor Project recently released their 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health that included participation from 35,000 young people, ages 13-24 from across the country. Some of the key findings include:
- 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including more than half of transgender and nonbinary youth.
- 12% of white youth attempted suicide compared to 31% of Native/Indigenous youth, 21% of Black youth, 21% of multiracial youth, 18% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.
- More than 80% of LGBTQ youth stated that COVID-19 made their living situation more stressful — and only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming.
- 70% of LGBTQ youth stated that their mental health was “poor” most of the time or always during COVID-19.
- 30% of LGBTQ youth experienced food insecurity in the past month, including half of all Native/Indigenous LGBTQ youth.
- Half of all LGBTQ youth of color reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year, including 67% of Black LGBTQ youth and 60% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth.
These findings are consistent with other recent research, according to the Human Rights Campaign’s Growing Up LGBT report and the Durso Gates Serving Our Youth National Survey, 63% of LGBTQ youth say they will need to move to another part of the country to feel accepted and an overwhelming 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.
The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN) reports, a LGBTQ student hears 26 anti-LGBTQ slurs during their day on average (one-third from a school staff member); 30% of LGBTQ students missed a day of school in the last month due to safety concerns; and 28% drop out of high school altogether. Perhaps most appalling and yet hardly surprising: more than 33% suffer violence as result of families who do not accept them.
Issue to Watch:
We still lack federal legislation prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ Americans and offering protection in education, employment, housing, healthcare, credit access, public services and spaces, federal funding, jury service, and more. The Equality Act has passed in the House and currently sits waiting to be passed in the Senate.
As a result, discriminatory legislation is happening at the state level all across the country. Already in 2021, 250+ anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced across 31 states while 10 states have passed discriminatory legislation the majority of which target LGBTQ young people. Many of these states are predominately rural.
What You Can Do: Stand up and support LGBTQ young people in your rural community.
Join us in supporting the Equality Act.
- Call Your Senators using the quick and easy link created by Human Rights Campaign
- Email Your Senators it takes less than a minute to let your Senators know that you support the right for all LGBTQ members of your community to thrive.
And above all else, go to the young people in your community and demonstrate your love and commitment to them. We promise you that love always wins.
The Rural Youth Catalyst Project is an independent working group aligned with the Rural Assembly. Working nationally, the Rural Youth Catalyst Project aims to strengthen and create opportunities that allow rural and Native youth to realize their hopes and dreams while remaining in or returning to their communities.
Collaborate with us: For additional information about the Rural Youth Catalyst Project or to collaborate with us please contact Kim Phinney and Kathy Moxon. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 802-922-2274. You’ll find Kathy at email@example.com and 707-498-9502.