Each June, we celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride. It’s a month to raise awareness of the LGBTQ+ community, and also to show support for LGBTQ+ youth. There is still a long way to go for the LGBTQ+ community to gain the respect and recognition it has long-deserved.

Pride Month: Raising Support for the LGBTQ+ Youth.
Pride Month: Raising Support for the LGBTQ+ Youth.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

June is the most colorful and loving month of the year. It is an entire month dedicated to showing support for and embracing the LGBTQ+ community. Pride month is not only a celebration for LGBTQ+ members; it is a celebration for all of humanity. In Pride month, we remember that love is totally free and can break any barrier. That is one of the biggest lessons the LGBTQ+ community has taught us.

The LGBTQ+ community is the most unique group of individuals. It brings together millions of people sharing different ways to love and to live—ways that weren’t commonly expressed in the past. These are people who broke stereotypes and showed us that we are who we are, no matter what our physical characteristics may be. These are people who showed the world that there are no barriers when it comes to love.

LGBTQ+ Pride month celebrates a group of communities that are part of this movement. Pride month supports an umbrella of topics about sexuality and gender identity. For that reason, the acronym encompasses lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals. The LGBTQ+ community also includes other sexual orientations, such as pansexual and asexual individuals.

Pride Month: Time to support the LGBTQ+ youth.
Pride Month: Time to support the LGBTQ+ youth.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

But things have never been easy for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for its younger members. For centuries, the LGBTQ+ community was rejected and persecuted. And the saddest part is that it is still happening in many parts of the world today.

Since the start of the LGBTQ+ pride movement in the 1960s, this community has endured so much. They’ve struggled to gain recognition and respect for its members and there is still a lot of work to do, especially in protecting and supporting the LGBTQ+ youth.

According to psychological research, LGBTQ+ youth are four times more likely to attempt to self-harm. This is because of the constant persecution that the LGBTQ+ youth experience. That treatment occurs not only at school, but many LGBTQ+ youths struggle with being rejected by their own families.

Even worse, many families attempt to “change” their LGBTQ+ youth. This type of persecution and rejection are factors that can directly affect one’s self-acceptance. This leads many LGBTQ+ youths to attempt self-harm and even suicide.

The LGBTQ+ movement has been struggling to get protection and support for LGBTQ+ youths.
The LGBTQ+ movement has been struggling to get protection and support for LGBTQ+ youths.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

LGBTQ+ youth are three times more likely to experience mental illness. According to research, about 39% of the LGBTQ+ youth community has a mental illness. Most of these youths experience anxiety and depression from childhood. Before coming out, the pressure is particularly high, and this is when many LGBTQ+ members develop these disorders.

Likewise, most LGBTQ+ youth face health disparities. These are mostly linked to a denial of the youths’ civil and human rights. Policies based on social stigmas and discrimination result LGBTQ+ youths being denied jobs and education.

Roughly 30% of transgender youths avoid or postpone medical care when they are injured or sick. This is mostly due to a fear of discrimination, disrespect, or an inability to receive it. About 8% of LGBTQ+ youths and 27% of transgender youths in the U.S. report being denied health care services.

Raising support for the LGBTQ+ youth community members.
Raising support for the LGBTQ+ youth community members.
Graphic by Haydee Vanegas.

According to the National School Climate Survey, most schools are not safe for LGBTQ+ youth. In fact, approximately 60% of LGBTQ+ youths report feeling unsafe at school due to discrimination from peers and school staff members. In addition, 70% of LGBTQ+ youths report experiencing a hostile climate at school, and 60% of LGBTQ+ youth say they have been harassed or assaulted there. After reporting the incident to school staff, most of the LGBTQ+ youth were ignored or told that the school could do nothing to address the situation.

As you can see, things don’t seem to be getting better for the LGBTQ+ community, despite what we are often told. There is still a lot of work to do, and it must start with each one of us. It is time to support the LGBTQ+ youth, regardless of whether we are a part of the LGBTQ+ community. It is a human right to be who we are and to love who we want. That human right must be respected.