It is understandable to struggle with feelings of fear and anxiety surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, but our LGBTQ+ young people may be especially vulnerable to the impact on their mental health. The emotions that may be expressed include grief, sadness, disappointment and anger – all so relatable!
In addition, while we hope that our LGBTQ+ young people are in loving family homes, the reality is that there are some youth who are in unsupportive environments this summer and experiencing a deep loss of connection with the LGBTQ+ community.
All kids, teens, and young adults deserve trusted and supportive adults in their lives. Whether you are a parent, grandparent, sibling, caregiver, teacher, coach, ally, or friend of an LGBTQ+ young person, you can help! Here are three strategies that can offer support to LGBTQ+ youth this summer.
1. Encourage kids, teens, and young adults to find community online
Just because we are keeping our physical distance from other people doesn’t mean we have to be socially isolated. There is a whole world online where friendships can flourish.
And if a LGBTQ+ young person is living with people who are unable or unwilling to offer support, they can reach out to other family members, allies, friends, teachers, clubs and support groups on-line via Zoom or Skype. Young people can also use Tik Tok and Instagram to connect and build community.
Encourage the LGBTQ+ young people in your life to stay connected online. The Kaleidoscope Program offers free, virtual, weekly programs such as the Pride Club and Creative Expressions Group for 12-17 year olds, as well as a Coffee Chat Group for 18-24 years olds.
If possible, offer a young person a space where they can use their phone or laptop to access safe online groups. Let them know that it shows strength to reach out to others and that you are proud of them for extending their friendship to other young people.
2. Enjoy the great OUTdoors!
Health experts say that it is safe to go outside and it’s completely worth doing so that you can get out of the house, get some exercise, and have some fun.
Invite the LGBTQ+ young person in your life to go on a morning hike when the temperature is lower, or spend the day in the sun at the beach, if it is safe in your area to do so. Spending time with a supportive adult can give a young person the safe space to relax and be themselves. You can discuss LGBTQ current events and allow the young person to process how they feel about what is going on in the world. Or you can just go in the ocean and splash around to your heart’s content. Remember to wear a mask and practice social distancing!
3. Celebrate Pride Month all summer long!
June is the official Pride month but Pride can be celebrated all summer long! Because many Pride celebrations all over the world were cancelled this year, the LGBTQ+ young people in your life may be feeling a deep sense of disappointment. But let them know that you are a safe and supportive ally in their life and that they are deserving of celebrating Pride all summer long.
You can help them order Pride decorations for both inside or outside their home. A google search will result in lots of ideas for fun rainbow craft projects. And if you like to cook, share your interest and teach the young person you care about how to make delicious and fun rainbow themed recipes.
So even though life may feel overwhelming for all of us, the good news is there are ways you can bring joy, fun and pride this summer into the lives of the kids, teens, and young adults who brighten up your life. Best wishes for a great summer from all of us at The Help Group’s Kaleidoscope Program!
About the author
Jeri Rochman, JD, MA is the Program Director for Kaleidoscope and the very proud mom of a wonderful gay son. She is a National Board Certified Counselor, Certified Parent Educator and Trained Crisis Counselor. Interested in learning more about Kaleidoscope’s programs and services? She can be reached at [email protected].