As we reflect on July, which commemorated Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, we find ourselves contemplating its profound significance within our community. Many people in the LGBTQ+ community navigate intersecting identities, such as race, ethnicity, class, disability and other social factors. Recognizing the significance of such intersectionality is vital, particularly relating to mental health and social implications. To foster an environment that empowers and supports individuals with intersecting identities, we must endorse inclusive advocacy that employs a comprehensive approach to equality and social justice.
Intersectional challenges in the LGBTQ+ community
The diversity of people within the LGBTQ+ community includes the experience of a double or triple burden as anti-LGBTQ+ laws and rhetoric proliferate. The compounding effects of discrimination, prejudice and systemic barriers adversely impact the well-being of LGBTQ+ people. Our community, particularly transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, grapple with elevated risks of anxiety, depression that can lead to suicidal tendencies, bullying, discrimination, stigma and hate crimes. Oftentimes, they are also subject to sham practices of conversion therapy, leading to increased rates of mental and physical disorders. Studies by UCLA reveal that LGBTQ+ people who have undergone conversion therapy are nearly twice as likely to attempt suicide, and research from The Trevor Project shows that 41% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year.
Sadly, these challenges permeate into other life factors, leading to disparities in employment, resources and education. For instance, the Supreme Court ruling on Affirmative Action has undone decades of progress in a fell swoop, exacerbating educational inequalities among Black, Hispanic and other groups that have historically been underrepresented in higher education. Although race was the main factor in the affirmative action decision, the implications of minority communities being stripped of their rights are alarming.
Furthermore, the rise of anti-LGBTQ+ laws adds to the crisis, affecting LGBTQ+ rights and limiting access to gender-affirming care, mental healthcare resources and diminishing the sense of belonging. Most recently, several civil rights groups have issued travel advisories for certain states like Florida. The hostile climate has prompted many LGBTQ+ people to consider relocating their families in search of more welcoming communities and a better life. We must not lose hope, however. We can ensure the welfare of our community by acknowledging the challenges they face and working towards a holistic solution.
Inclusive advocacy: proactive measures for safeguarding minority rights
To ensure the rights of minority individuals, we must enact proactive measures today. There are a few steps we can take collectively to empower and uplift marginalized communities:
Prevent/Prohibit discrimination and violence by protecting minority individuals.
- Support organizations that fight for equality and LGBTQ+ rights at local, state and national levels, like SAVE, Equality Florida, The National LGBTQ Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, to name a few.
- Support mental health and suicide prevention efforts. The Trevor Project, for one, has done extensive work in suicide prevention. Their 2023 report serves as a valuable model for understanding and addressing the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
- Fostering allyship and speaking out can help fight stigma, leading to lower rates of mental disorders and suicide.
Repeal laws criminalizing/targeting minorities.
- Communities need to urge local, state and national leaders and policymakers to work together to eliminate disparities in health care for historically underserved populations.
- Advocate for inclusive healthcare treatment that acknowledges and addresses intersectionality within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Make active efforts to repeal harmful anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-trans laws, as well as voter suppression laws impacting other communities like Hispanic and Black populations.
Safeguard freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly for minorities.
- Support organizations like the ACLU that use nationwide litigation, advocacy and education to advance laws and policies rooted in racial equity and end discriminatory practices.
- Urge individuals to engage in inclusive advocacy that helps improve the quality of life of marginalized communities.
As we acknowledge the diversity of LGBTQ+ identities and their multifaceted experiences, it becomes evident that a single-pronged approach won't work anymore. We must enact a comprehensive approach to equality and social justice. Issues affecting one group eventually permeate into others; we are not safe until we are all protected. Organizations like SAVE offer valuable resources and education, encouraging individuals to harness their voting power in the fight against harmful legislation. We invite you to become part of the solution by actively contributing to dismantling these barriers, thereby paving the way for a more inclusive future where the rights and well-being of all individuals are upheld and protected.