June is LGBTQ Pride Month. June was chosen to commemorate the 1969 Stonewall riots. Since then, the LGBTQ community has celebrated many milestones. For example, for the first time in the United States history, we had an openly gay candidate for president, Pete Buttigieg. Here, in Colorado, we have an openly gay Governor, Jared Polis.

While there has been progress, the LGBTQ community continues to face the challenge of being an underrepresented community. LGBTQ youth and college students face unique issues. According to a 2018 report by the Human Rights Commission (“HRC”), 67% of LGBTQ students have heard their families make negative comments about their community, and only 21% of youth are “out” to their families. Sometimes, college is the place where LGBTQ students can express their whole selves. But, what happens during a period like this, with COVID-19 restrictions, when classes are online? There is no doubt the fear, confusion, and isolation intensifies.

During this unprecedented time, it is important to support our LGBTQ students. HRC has developed tips for counselors that are useful for all of us, and it’s worth noting a few here:

  • Share pronouns to demonstrate LGBTQ inclusion (She/Her/Hers or They/Their/Theirs)
  • Use gender inclusive language. For example, instead of man, use person; instead of mankind, use people or humankind.
  • Focus on Resilience. Note that the “new normal“ will evolve to a better normal over time.
  • Remind students that online platforms are not always the safest place for LGBTQ students to find affirmation. Instead, share information about HRC approved LGBTQ platforms.
  • Ask about self-care practices. Discuss balance, priorities, physical, and mental health.
  • Share information about The Trevor Project. It is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth under the age of 25.

During Pride Month, please join me in being an Ally and celebrating the lives and many contributions of the LGBTQ community, not just this month, but every month.

Supporting LGBTQ Youth
The Trevor Project