Despite unprecedented gains in legal protections by the LGBTQ community over the last decade, LGBTQ youth continue to be among the most at-risk youth populations in America.
Specifically, LGBTQ young people are disproportionately more likely than their non-LGBTQ peers to experience homelessness, suffer from depression, and experience suicidal ideation.
Research shows that family rejection significantly contributes to negative outcomes. Rejecting behaviour is not limited to a parent disowning or kicking out their child; it can also include subjecting young people to «conversion therapy» blocking their access to LGBTQ friends and networks, or keeping a young person’s LGBTQ identity «secret». In contrast, supporting LGBTQ youth, affirming their identity, and advocating for equal treatment can prevent many of these outcomes and set LGBTQ youth on a positive trajectory.
«I’m so proud to announce the Biden Foundation has launched this campaign», Vice President Joe Biden said. «We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection—and lift up research, best practices, and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance».
The «As You Are» campaign is collecting personal stories—from LGBTQ youth, parents, siblings, educators, social service providers, coaches, and others—to help educate the broader public about the critical importance of affirming, accepting, and supporting our LGBTQ young people, and the harms these youth face when their families and communities reject them. Because stories like these have incredible power, the Foundation will share these narratives with the hope that they will serve to inspire, to create communities, to heal families, and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people.
See below for statements from some members of the Biden Foundation’s LGBTQ Advisory Council:
Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project:
«Our research shows that LGBTQ young people who are accepted by their families are healthier, have higher self-esteem and are much less likely to report depression, abuse substances or attempt suicide. Family acceptance is like a vaccine that protects their LGBTQ child with love and helps them deal more effectively with challenges, adversity and stigma».
Judy Shepard, Co-Founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation:
«No matter who you are, where you live, or how you pray, surely we can all agree that we ought to live in a society where all our young people are supported and affirmed. It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds».
Marsha Aizumi, author of «Two Spirits, One Heart»:
«As a parent who has been on a journey of acceptance, I know firsthand the importance and impact of being my son’s ally and champion. All of our children deserve the right and dignity to live their lives as authentically as possible. In sharing our stories of love and acceptance, we move closer to a safer, more peaceful world for all our children».
Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project:
«Family acceptance can save lives. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. And 40% of transgender and gender nonconforming adults report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, most of them before the age of 25. That’s why it is so important to support LGBTQ youth and let them know that they are not alone».