26 May 2002

Facing Harassment

As LGBT youth, we face an incredible challenge growing up in a society that is anti-queer. Self-confidence and self-esteem are hard to maintain under these circumstances. The pressure and stress of having to face a range of negative reactions – from parents, friends, society in general or ourselves – have led to some LGBT youth facing higher health risks.

Équipe -Pose ta question!-

Research suggests that LGBT youth have significantly higher risks in some areas of’ health, including:

  • higher levels of depression;
  • higher incidence of suicide;
  • more risk for alcoholism and drug abuse;
  • more likely to live on the street;
  • higher rates of dropping out of school; and
  • higher risk of acquiring HIV infection and other STDs.

A general lack of support and understanding, and overt hostility can also be common for LGBT youth. Many LGBT youth or youth perceived to be LGBT have to:

  • put up with a lack of support from family or peers;
  • constantly figure out where they are safe or unsafe, who they can or can’t be out to;
  • listen to derogatory comments about LGBT’s;
  • watch other queers being harassed or assaulted;
  • put up with verbal harassment, physical abuse and assaults from parents, sibling, peers, teachers and coaches, and
  • put up with health and service workers who won’t take them seriously.

If you have these experiences, don’t let anyone tell you it’s because you are LGBT. These health risks and and situations are not because you are LGBT, but are the result of society’s negative reactions to your sexual orientation and/or gender identity. They are the result of widespread ignorance and discrimination.

Remember that you are not alone:

  • find an ally;
  • talk to someone you trust;
  • reach out to AlterHeros, you are not alone ! ;
  • visit a queer youth drop-in centres.

Adapted from the document ‘Your Everyday Health Guide: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Resource’; Copyright 1998 LGBT Health Association