Some of the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ youth in need of social services include:
Bullying and harassment: LGBTQ+ youth often experience bullying, harassment, and verbal abuse at school, in their communities, or even within their own families. These young people are at increased risk of being a victim of both physical and verbal violence.
Discrimination and stigma: LGBTQ+ youth, especially transgender youth, are likely to face discrimination — in fact, many communities are pushing for new regulations surrounding the handling of gender and sexuality issues in schools. Discrimination can have a huge impact on student engagement and overall academic performance.
Lack of support: Many LGBTQ+ adolescents struggle with a lack of support and acceptance from their families, friends, or communities after self-identifying as LGBTQ+. This lack of support can lead to feelings of isolation and loneliness.
Limitations on healthcare: LGBTQ+ children, especially those that identify as transgender seeking gender-affirming care, face unique challenges in receiving care from medical providers. Constantly evolving legal limitations on gender-affirming care, as well as the exorbitant cost of healthcare in the U.S., pose challenges to students without support and resources.
Mental health issues: Nearly 20% of high school students report serious thoughts of suicide and 9% have made an attempt to take their lives, according to advocacy group The Trevor Project, and these numbers are even higher among LGBTQ+ adolescents. Queer youth are also more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Homelessness: Many LGBTQ+ youth experience multiple disrupted placements, compounding the trauma associated with leaving their families of origin and increasing the chances of homelessness. Homelessness in adolescence can cause further emotional distress and form additional barriers to employment and self-sufficiency later in life.