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LGBTQI Youth at Evolve

Written by Evolve's Behavioral Health Content Team​:

Alyson Orcena, LMFT, Melissa Vallas, MD, Shikha Verma, MD, Ellen Bloch, LCSW, Lianne Tendler, LMFT, Megan Johnston, LMFT Meet The Team >

The entire staff at Evolve Treatment has a message for all our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer, and Intersex Clients.

We want to thank you.

Thank you for being you.

Thank you for letting us help.

We’re honored you let us in.

 We’re proud to be part of your family.

We understand that as an LGBTQI adolescent, you face the same pressures and challenges all adolescents do. Your body and brain are growing and changing faster than ever. You’re learning who you are, who you want to be, how you want to represent yourself, and how you want to interact with the world. You’re choosing role models, learning to think abstractly, and developing your personal moral and ethical compass. Hormonal changes might make you moody. Physical changes might make you feel awkward and uncomfortable in your own body. You may start to feel out of place in your typical social environment. At the same time, you’re beginning to feel more independent, more responsible, more capable of handling challenges, and more equipped to meet your personal, social, academic, and career goals.

You Have a Place Here

We understand that all teenagers develop their sexual identity at different times and at different rates. You may be in the process of questioning or you may already identify one way or another. Maybe you’re totally girl or boy crazy, or both. You may be shy around your crushes – and you may have a new one every other week. All of this is this normal.

If you love someone of the same gender, everything we just listed might add another level of challenge to the already challenging life of a teen. And if you feel like your gender is different than your biological gender, then your more challenging situation may be even more difficult.

There’s no way to quantify what you’re going through or exactly how you feel.

Let’s just say this:

It can be complicated, and we get it.

LGBTQI Youth: Unique Risks

We’re not saying we know exactly what you’re going through, because we don’t know you. We do know a lot of LGBTQI teens, however, and we know that in addition to all the typical pressures of adolescence, being in the sexual minority opens you up to unique risks than teens in the sexual majority. We understand you’re at increased risk of:

  • Stigmatization.
    • If you come out, your family, friends, teachers, and society in general may start to treat you differently than they treat individuals in the sexual majority.
    • The heteronormative patriarchy is firmly entrenched, and some days you feel like it’s an uphill battle just to be you.
  • Social isolation.
    • Your sexual and gender identity might cause you to withdraw from friends, family, and social situations.
    • You may no longer identify with the friends, hobbies, and activities you once did.
  • Bullying.
    • Being in the sexual or gender minority increases your risk of verbal bullying and abuse from peers, teachers, and strangers on the street.
    • You may also be the victim of anti-LGBTQI violence, in the form of both physical violence and interpersonal aggression.

Emotional and Substance Use Disorders

Working with LGBTQI teens and reading decades of research has taught us even more. We know the extra burden of having to fight for who you are and who you want to love – a.k.a. the pressures of managing a stigmatized identity –  can lead to an increased risk of:

  • Emotional disorders.
    • LGBTQI individuals are three times more likely to develop major depression and/or generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Substance use disorders.
    • LGBTQI individuals show higher rates of substance abuse than sexual majority individuals.
      • Between 20-30% of LGBTQI individuals report substance abuse, as opposed to about 10% of the sexual/gender majority.
    • LGBTQI individuals show higher rates of alcohol abuse than sexual majority individuals.
      • Around 25% of LGBTQI individuals report alcohol abuse, as opposed to around 7.5% of the sexual/gender majority.
  • Suicide.
    • Lack of family, peer and societal support combined with harassment and compounded by typical adolescent development, makes LGBTQI individuals more likely to take their own lives.
    • Suicide is a leading cause of death for LGBTQI individuals age 10-24.
    • LGBTQI youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide then sexual/gender minority youth.
    • Youth in process of questioning their sexual identity are three times more likely to engage in suicidal ideation and engage in self-harming behaviors.
    • Roughly 50% of transgender individuals have suicidal ideation.

How We Can Help

At Evolve Treatment, we want to know you so we can help you in the best way possible. If you identify as LGBTQI, here’s a list of things we want to learn right away if you are struggling:

  1. What’s your current home and social environment like? Do you feel supported and understood?
  2. At what stage in the development of your sexual identity are you? Searching? Sure? Unsure?
  3. At what stage of coming out are you? To no one? Close friends? Family? Everyone?
  4. What’s your gender identity? Is it different than your biological gender?
  5. Do you have a support network of LGBTQI peers or mentors?
  6. Does your ethnicity or cultural identity complicate your gender and sexual identity?

That’s our short list, because honestly, the more we know, the more we can help.

If you’re an LGBTQI teen struggling with emotional, behavioral, or substance use disorders, we’ll welcome you with open arms Evolve. Not to pat ourselves on the back, but the fact is that we’re really, really good at working with LGBTQI teens. We offer a safe space grounded in compassion, trust, understanding, and affirmation.

LGBTQI Resources

The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) provides this excellent list of LGBTQI friendly mental health resources for you:

If you feel desperate, isolated, and in need of help, please remember you are not alone.

Please do not suffer in silence.

Please reach out to us or one of the resources listed above for help.

There are safe places, friendly faces, and wise, compassionate peers and adults out there ready and willing to help you overcome the challenges you face. Many have been in your shoes and can offer practical advice learned from direct experience. At Evolve, we all have your best interests in mind, and our goals are your goals: we want to help you live your life and to remind you that who you are, is person you were meant to be.

We don’t want to change you.

We want to help you be the best you possible.

And since it is that month, yes: we want you to know we are proud of you.

But more importantly, we want you to learn to be proud of who you are.


Our Behavioral Health Content Team

We are an expert team of behavioral health professionals who are united in our commitment to adolescent recovery and well-being.

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