LGBTQ youth already experience higher levels of isolation and loneliness, and those feelings have only been heightened during the pandemic.
According to a survey conducted by the Trevor Project, of more than 35,000 LGBTQ youth in our country, 80 percent of respondents said the pandemic made their living situations more stressful. Forty-two percent said they had seriously considered suicide in the last year, and nearly 66 percent said they did not live in LGBTQ-affirming households.
“I think people think our lives are tragic because we are at risk for a lot of negative health outcomes. That’s just a fact, but that’s not because of our queerness; it’s because of society’s response to our queerness,” said Alissa Smith, communications manager for Inside Out Youth Services in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Inside Out Youth Services offers services to LGBTQ youth in Colorado Springs. The county in which it resides, El Paso County, ranks among the highest in suicide rates for LGBTQ youth in the country.
“Our work is even more important; even more life-saving,” added Jessie Pocock, the group’s executive director.
Pocock figured during the pandemic something had to change.
Around 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness in the country are LGBTQ, so the group opened a homeless shelter in town last winter. During the months it was open, the shelter provided 124 young people a warm meal and bed and helped 35 of them exit homelessness, according to Inside Out Youth Services, but still, the group could use more funding.
According to Pocock, they have seen donations dip even further since states began opening back up again.
“When a young person feels safe, they fall asleep,” said Pocock. “This is a fun thing people don’t think about. I always know we’re doing our job when I see a young person on the couch taking a nap. It means they feel safe.”