Teaching Tolerance To Our Youth
While we all have different values and beliefs, it is important for each of us to be tolerant and teach tolerance to our youth. Even if a person does not condone the lifestyle of another, they should respect the person and their individuality.
LGBTQ+ youth, in particular, have a difficult time. Studies show that these youths are at a higher risk for violence. Violence includes: bullying, teasing, harassing, and physical assault. This results in a negative impact on them when it comes to education and mental health. Studies also show that LGBTQ+ youth contemplate suicide three times more often than heterosexual peers.
So, what can be done? As a start, in the school system we can implement evidence-based policies, procedures, and activities to promote a healthy environment for all youth, making sure that they are LGBTQ+ inclusive. Schools that promote programs, such as the gay-straight alliance, have less instances of violence towards LGBTQ+ youth (CDC, 2017). They also show fewer instances of suicide attempts and absenteeism, and youth report feeling safer than in schools where these types of programs don’t exist. School administration and educators should become familiar with terms such as gender identity and sexual orientation. Training should be provided for educators to help them provide all students with a safe and healthy environment regardless of sexual orientation or identity.
At home, parents can have open and honest conversations with their child(ren). Encourage them to accept all people. The way a parent of an LGBTQ+ youth communicates with their child can make a big difference in their current and future mental and physical health. When a parent reacts negatively to their son or daughter being LGBTQ+ it can make it very hard for that child to thrive. Depression, use of drugs and alcohol, and risky sexual behaviors have all been linked to parental rejection.
Resources for schools and parents for additional information:
- Resources for Professionals
- A Primer for Principals, Educators, & School Personnel
- Gay, Lesbian, & Bisexual Teens- Facts for Teens & Their Parents
CDC. (2017). Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health. Retrieved from //www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth.htm
The Trevor Project. (2017). Facts About Suicide. Retrieved from //www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/preventing-suicide/facts-about-suicide/