harnessing the power of connection: Q Chat Space
Center for Youth
“It really hurts to go through all of this with no one to talk to about it, no one who understands, to not see yourself, to be invisible, to be erased, to be silenced.”(transgender woman, age 19)
All adolescents face emotional, relational, and decision-making challenges as they transition from childhood to adulthood. But the challenges that LGBTQ+ youth face—and the risks these may pose for their future health—can be especially serious.
According to the first nationally representative data on LGBTQ+ high school students, released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in August 2016, LGBTQ+ students are much more likely to experience:
While LGBTQ+ youth, and especially LGBTQ+ youth of color, often face more challenges growing up, these statistics need not tell their story. With access to caring communities and educational resources, these young people can and do thrive.
LGBTQ+ youth need safe opportunities to chat with others like them within a structure that encourages compassionate interactions and discourages bullying and harassment. They don’t like being seen as always in crisis.
“I haven’t used [a suicide hotline] because it’s mostly—not like I’m going to commit suicide, it’s just I’m not in a very healthy state of mind.”(bisexual female, age 16)
However, they face many obstacles to accessing in-person resources, from a lack of transportation to an understandable hesitancy to attend face-to-face groups. A young teen often has no practical way to get to a LGBTQ+ community center, when it’s potentially a hundred miles away (or more).
One resource almost every teen in the US does have nowadays, however, is a smartphone. Thus the internet has become the most common default source of information for LGBTQ+ youth, on everything from general health to sex education to social counseling. Given the unfiltered nature of the internet, this can be wonderful and empowering, or dangerous and destructive.
To help provide the support these teens need, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, PFLAG National, and Planned Parenthood Federation of America are partnering to develop a digital LGBTQ+ Center for Youth.
Q Chat Space, an online space providing real-time, chat-based, professionally facilitated support groups for LGBTQ+ teens (13-19) plus trusted sexual health information and links and referrals to other resources. By filling a crucial, unmet need, Q Chat Space will make a vital and even life-saving difference for vulnerable young people.
To make a donation, go to lgbtcenters.org/donate/digital-center/ and dedicate your donation to “Digital Center.”
If you are interested in learning more about how you or your company can support this effort, please contact Deborah S. Levine, at email@example.com.