“When you were a child, you were probably told to ‘man up’ or ‘you need to be more lady like’…but what if you don’t fit into any of those categories?” asks Dr. Alex Karydi, program director of the South Carolina Youth and Suicide prevention as she addressed an audience at the Palmetto Lowcountry Behavioral Health. Dr. Karydi held a seminar on “How to support the LGBTQI youth” to help educate some local counselors, leaders, and social workers on one of the biggest issues in youths today.
Along with interesting and helpful reasoning behind certain behaviors of our LGBTQI you, staggering statistics supported the importance of addressing these issues. Many people at this conference were surprised that over 8% of the youth don’t feel as if they belong in the categories society expects us to be in. Which leads to a point that even the adults in the room felt special about.
“Think about it, you are the only one in the world who talks like you, you’re the only one with the same body type, height, weight, skin color, hair color of you, you’re the only one in the world who smiles and even laughs like you, then you are special! You are special! You are one of a kind! You are Badass for being special! Why should we tell our LGBTQI youths that they are not special?” say Dr. Karydi with enthusiastic positivity.
Our bodies are powered by our brains and it is a proven fact that our sexuality and our attraction to other humans comes from the chemicals in our brain. Therefore, how can you judge someone for liking someone of the same sex if that is what their brain is telling them? (Crazy! I know!)
Sadly, many political and medical leaders, as well as many residents of South Carolina do not see this biological scientific fact. This ignorance leads to the decimation of LGBT youths which create stressors. All this on top of school and trying to be a normal teenager too. This causes an increase of behavior and mental health issues. Not to mention, South Carolina is one of the 5 states in the United States that does NOT have hate crimes!! Surprised?
According to the Human Rights study, around 2.25 to 27 million students consider themselves as LGBT students. Keep in ind that in our LGBT demographic we have a higher rate of homeless, suicidal ideations, anxiety, depression, and are more likely to fall into the hands of smoking, alcohol, and substance abuse. Why? Because the impact and lack of support around them maybe?
Family rejections play a major factor in a LGBT youth’s life because a family is the youth’s main human contact. Kids look to their families as a nest for love, trust, and support. But then a family rejections the youth and this negative impact cases a youth to go into social isolation or self-cutting stage, or simply running away from the situation.
In America, there are around 1.6 million youth experiencing homeless with 40% that identify as LGBT. These youths run the risk of becoming a sex trafficking victim. Out of these 40%, 20% make it into the juvenile justice system with 85% of these youths being people of color. To make the situations worst, 6 LGBTQ youths die on the street everyday. 1 out of 2 of these are transgender.
The numbers and situations are scary and real. So what can you do to help?
- Listen to your Child/ Youth (If it is important to them, it is important to you!)
- Reassure your child/youth that it’s okay to be different.
- Help your child/ youth connect with an age appreciate community by reaching out to We Are Family of Charleston who offers support for kids and parents.
- Prepare your child/youth to deal with harassment (It’s going to happen at some point in their lives)
- Advocate your child/youth. Give them confidence in themselves.
- Get active in helping to work for social change! Remember, this is YOUR community, YOU pay taxes, so help take some action!
Think back to when you were a teenager. Remember how you felt, like no one understood you? As adults, it is our job to educate ourselves to learn about others differences and help prevent a tragedy. Most important, as an adult it is our job to provide support for our youth, the leaders of our future.
Words and Picture by Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez