The Double-Edged Sword of Technology for LGBTQ+ Teens
To be young and LGBTQ+ in 2020 America means living in a culture of both remarkable progress and pervasive challenges. Same-sex marriage is legal; there’s an increasing number of positive, identity-affirming sexual and gender minority characters in movies and television; celebrities and influencers are out and proud on social media; and many of us are living thriving lives as out professionals, parents and members of the community.
Yet many LGBTQ+ youth continue to face discrimination and denial of their right to express their identity and are still facing unique and emerging mental health challenges in a locked-down era of COVID. As national attention is rightly on racial injustices, and pride celebrations this year focus on the solidarity of the racial and sexual and gender minority movements, there is no better time to focus on how technology can be used to promote justice and supportive community for LGBTQ+ young people.
LGBTQ+ teens still experience mental health challenges at alarmingly high rates compared to our straight, cisgender counterparts. A national survey by the Trevor project found that 39 percent of LGBTQ+ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and the CDC estimates rates of suicidality among LGB youth to be between three and five times that of their straight peers. Young LGBTQ+ Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) are at unique risk of experiencing multiple forms of discrimination and aggression (based on the intersectionality of minority identities), that make them particularly susceptible to chronic stress and mental health challenges.