A Look at LGBTQ+ Youth Day of Silence
• April 2023 •
From Juan Navarro, Executive Director
Los Angeles Centers for Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Executive Director’s Message: LGBTQ+ Youth Day of Silence
Have you heard about the Day of Silence scheduled for April 22, 2023? It’s a student-led movement for LGBTQ+ youth and allies designed to protest the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination of LGBTQ+ people in schools. Supported by GLSEN (the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network), for one day in April, students will go through the school day without speaking. Then, they end the day with Breaking the Silence events to share their experiences and bring attention to ways their schools and communities can become more inclusive. L.A. CADA supports the movement’s goal to direct attention to the needs of LGBTQ+ Youth.
One important need is the prevention and treatment of behavioral health disorders. Rates of substance use and suicide deaths have increased in the United States over the last ten years, especially among youth and young adults. LGBTQ+ youth are at highest risk – they use alcohol and drugs at significantly higher rates than their straight peers. A lot of that is about masking the pain:
- The Trevor Project reports that half of all LGBTQ+ teens get a negative reaction from their parents when they ‘come out’ to them
- 68% of LGBTQ youth have experienced family rejection after coming out
- More than one in four LGBTQ+ youth are forced to leave their homes after coming out, and 40% of homeless youth are LGBTQ+
- 52% of LGBTQ young people in middle and high school reported either electronic or in-person bullying in the past year
- There is a shortage of clinics and facilities that meet LGBTQ youth’s unique needs (per The True Colors Fund)
- A CDC survey revealed the highest rates of attempted suicide were among gender non-conforming students who are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers
L.A. CADA works with L.A. County schools to make counseling for alcohol, drug, and mental health issues available to LGBTQ+ students by co-locating our staff within the schools. Our services are designed using evidence-based practices endorsed by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including state-of-science prevention and treatment for LGBTQ+ youth.
Join L.A. CADA in marking: LGBTQ+ Youth Day of Silence
“My story? Well, it’s not very pretty. My name is Trace, I’m 19, I’m an addict, I used to be Tracey in a former life. I never knew my real father and Mom was an alcoholic. She married a guy who hated me because I felt like a boy and I wouldn’t say otherwise. He tried his best to beat the gay out of me. When they were out, I drank their booze for revenge and got into opioids and meth. The fighting at home was unbelievable because I was out of the closet. Long story short, my stepdad raped me and I ran away. You know how you survive on the streets to get money, right? Well, I got busted, ended up in juvie, found out I was pregnant, got an abortion, and tried to kill myself. All in the first three months of being 16. It ended up with me in treatment. I guess that was the best thing for me. I learned about one day at a time and I learned there were gay peers and counselors who gave me so much support. Treatment was my turning point. Today, I so love living clean, sober, and proud.”
SPOTLIGHT – THE EVIDENCE IS IN ON:
Trauma-Informed Care for LGBTQ+ Youth
Youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or otherwise gender non-conforming have very frequently experienced trauma. It comes in the form of bullying, family rejection, violence and abuse perpetrated on LGBTQ+ people.
Whether you are a behavioral health agency, a counselor, an educator or other ally, one of the ways you can help is by developing an LGBTQ-focused trauma informed care approach. Adopting a trauma-informed approach agencywide or schoolwide reflects a commitment to change culture and practice in order to ensure that all youth get the support they need to thrive in the face of adversity.
There are six core domains to providing Trauma-Informed Care for LGBTQ+ youth:
(1) build your trauma-informed knowledge and skills;
(2) establish LGBTQ+ safe and supportive relationships and environments for youth;
(3) provide evidence-based, trauma-informed assessment and treatment services;
(4) involve youth and families in developing your program, services, and/or policies; and
(5) promote trauma-informed procedures and policies; and (6) collaborate across sectors
Learn more: LGBTQ+ Youth Voices of Trauma