June is Pride Month, a time to celebrate the achievements of and bring visibility to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ+) people. Every child and young person should be loved for the unique and wonderful person they are, but LGBTQ+ youth may be rejected by family members, and experience an increased risk for suicide, substance abuse, depression, and homelessness. There is nothing wrong with LGBTQ+ children and youth. Rather, the problem is the stigma and discrimination that exist within our communities and institutions.
As public health professionals, we can help support LGBTQ+ children and youth by familiarizing ourselves with resources in our community. Here are just a few of the many Colorado organizations and affinity groups that provide support, affirmation, and resources for LGBTQ+ youth:
Ignacio Out and Equal Alliance and Southwest Rainbow Youth - LGBTQ+ and Two-Spirit serving organization in Ignacio, CO that supports Indigenous youth on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation and all LGBTQ+ youth in La Plata County.
Inside Out Youth Services - IOYS involves LGBTQ+ youth, 13-24 years old, in programs and advocacy to make the Colorado Springs and El Paso Co community safer and more accepting of gender and sexual orientation diversity.
Colorado Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) Network from One Colorado - This network supports students in starting and running GSAs in their schools. GSAs have the goal of empowering LGBTQ+ students and their allies and eliminating bullying and harassment in their schools.
Rainbow Alley at The Center on Colfax - Rainbow Alley, in Denver, provides "a drop-in space, youth-led events and activities, counseling and support groups, health services and life skills."
Also, GLSEN, an organization that promotes safe, supportive, and LGBTQ-inclusive K-12 education, is currently conducting their 2021 National School Climate Survey. If you know any LGBTQ+ youth who attended middle or high school during the 2020-2021 school year (or know anyone who does), GLSEN would love to hear from them!