Supporting LGBTQ+ youth

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Schwartz, C., Waddell, C., Andres, C., Yung, D., & Gray-Grant, D. (2017). Supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Children’s Mental Health Research Quarterly, 11(2), 1–16. Vancouver, BC: Children’s Health Policy Centre, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University.

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Background: Young people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning (LGBTQ+) often face added challenges growing up, including homelessness, violence and an unequal burden of mental health concerns. Consequently, there is a strong need to intervene to ensure these inequities are addressed.

Methods: We used systematic review methods to identify studies assessing interventions aimed at supporting LGBTQ+ youth. Applying our inclusion criteria to the 22 studies identified from our searches, we accepted five observational studies.

Results: Many schools in North America are implementing positive practices and policies to support LGBTQ+ youth. Effective interventions include supporting gay-straight alliances, enacting policies against homophobic bullying, and training staff.

Conclusions: When discrimination against LGBTQ+ youth is addressed, there can be many positive benefits, including reduced substance use, suicidal ideation and suicide attempts by LBGTQ+ youth. Gay-straight alliances and policies against homophobic bullying may have benefits that extend beyond LGBTQ+ youth, including reducing drinking for all students. By encouraging and supporting LGBTQ+ youth, practitioners and policy-makers can assist all young people, regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation.

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