Monday, September 26, 2016

Why a Blog for LGBTQI+ Issues in Counseling?

When I begin speaking to my students about LGBTQI+ issues in my counselor educator classes at Southern Connecticut State University, I encounter some students who ask, "Isn't it much better for LGBT people now? We are much more accepting of LGBT people now in society." That is true, however, there are what we call "pockets of acceptance" - many continue to grow up with significant rejection, and so many issues remain in our "accepting" society, that counselors MUST be aware of and consider in their work.

What do LGBTQI+ people really face now? Many say (4 out of 10) that their community is absolutely not at all accepting of LGBT people. LGBT youth are twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to experience bullying and abuse at school. The vast majority of LGBT persons are also hearing negative messages about being LGBT, just as they are trying to understand their identity and feelings, in a period of time that is the most difficult for most people - teenage years. 

How does these difficulties impact youth? Unfortunately it puts them at an incredibly increased risk for suicide. Both thoughts and attempts are greater in Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual boys and girls, significantly above their heterosexual counterparts. Suicidal risk is even exponentially higher for transgender youth. Because of the high rejection of transgender persons by their families and due to other conditions (i.e., homelessness, medical centers refusing to care for them, legal obstacles, increased harassment), over 40% have attempted suicide. What is also known for all LGBTQI+ people is that when there is family rejection, they are at an incredibly higher risk.  

Impact on LGBT People Who Experience Family Rejection (HRC)

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As counselors, we must be acutely aware that LGBTQI+ people live with increased rejection and minority stress, that it contributes to the quality of their physical and mental health, and that depending on their other intersectional identities (e.g., ethnicity, religion, disability, national origin), these impacts could be exponential. This blog is devoted to bringing awareness, knowledge, and skills to counselors who work with LGBTQI+ people. A counselor working with this population can not only change the course of the client's life, they can literally save their life. 

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