Written by Lisa Pepera
1. Social Media
Use social media to become familiar with LGBTQ+ pages and be aware of trending issues where you can show your support. Like and follow the pages so that the organizations behind the pages become more known and present in the community. Share LGBTQ+ friendly posts/memes to show you are an advocate for this group. If it is appropriate, leave a review. Small businesses and organizations rely heavily on positive reviews to keep their mission going.
After finding LGBTQ+ pages on social media, see if you are able to donate any of your time or skills to these organizations. Or, help make your company LGBTQ+ inclusive by using gender neutral language and advocating for a gender neutral bathroom. If your company doesn’t already have an employee resource group (ERG) for the LGBTQ+ community, voice your desire to engage your company.
3. Create an LGBTQ+ Affirming Space
Do it big or do it small. From hanging a flag outside your home, a sticker on your car, or a small, but visible equality sticker at your office, find something that works for you. The idea is communicate that you are an ally. 40% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months. When support systems are in place, LGBTQ youth report significantly lower rates of attempting suicide. Systems of support include a supportive person, LGBTQ+-affirming spaces, proper use of pronouns, and access to gender affirming tools (www.thetrevorproject.org).
Wear a pride or rainbow badge or pin on your uniform at work, wear pride or rainbow colors on your face mask, lanyard, and keychain or on clothing. Check out these discreet, but impactful bracelets sold at https://colorsplus.org/store/. If you do choose to purchase something, make sure your money is benefiting a company whose mission aligns with your values and supports the LGBTQ+ community.
If you’re not already doing this when introducing yourself, share your pronouns. “Hi, I’m ______ I use she/her pronouns”. It invites the other person or persons to share their pronouns and at the same time, it communicates that you know what pronouns are and how to use them. It might feel new and weird, but it is not new or weird to LGBTQ+ youth. 1 in 4 LGBTQ youth use pronouns or pronoun combinations that fall outside of the binary construction of gender. Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having their pronouns respected by all or most of the people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected (www.thetrevorproject.org).
6. Don’t make assumptions
Youth identify with more than 100 different combinations of terms to describe their gender identity and sexual orientation. If you want you to know personal details, leave it to them to tell you.
7. Do not sexualize them
First, because they are youth, and second because it is unacceptable to narrow someone’s worth down to their sex parts and sexual activity. These youth dream about their future like any other youth does. They think about having healthy relationships and possibly having a family one day. It is inappropriate to ask a cis gender person about the appearance or status of their genitals. It is equally inappropriate to ask a transgender person those same questions.
8. Be kind
It goes without saying and at the same time it is easy to overlook. LGBTQ+ youth face rejection in the community, sometimes at home, and sometimes at school. 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their LGBTQ identity (www.thetrevorproject.org). Additionally, LGBTQ+ adults are often a target for violence. Please be kind, be an ally, and give them hope.
9. Shop Amazon Smile
Did you know when you shop on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of your choice. To shop on AmazonSmile, go to your Amazon app and select settings, then click turn on AmazonSmile and select your organzation. My favorite charitable organization to support LGBTQ+ youth is Colors+ (Colors Plus).
10. Your Vote Matters
Youth literally cannot vote to save their lives, they aren’t old enough. We have to do it for them. 86% of LGBTQ youth said that recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being (www.thetrevorproject.org).
The youth survey that is referenced in this article is from www.thetrevorproject.org. The 2020 survey “Representing the experiences of over 40,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13-24 across the United States, it is the largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health ever conducted. This wealth of data highlights the resiliency and diversity of LGBTQ young people and demonstrates how important affirming one’s identity is to their health and wellness. Findings from this cross-sectional survey also point to best practices for how to support LGBTQ young people and contribute positively to their mental health (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/survey-2020)”.