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SAY OutLoud is an organization that was founded in response to the lack of safe spaces for LGBTQ youth. They provide a supportive environment where people can meet, connect and grow with others who share their identity or help them explore how it fits within themselves without fear of discrimination because of sexuality orientation.
Why is it important to support the LGBT community?
When someone is discriminated against, harassed and abused because of their gender identity or gender expression, they face a greater risk of depression and suicide.
LGBT youth who experience family rejection are 8 times more likely to attempt suicide than those who receive support from parents after coming out. The risk of suicide among youth whose families reject themis further elevated when the youth is living in a community that also rejects such people.
That type of communities may experience greater stress and stigma than heterosexual communities, and their members are therefore at elevated risk for mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and substance misuse.
The development of self-esteem is significantly compromised by experiences of harassment and abuse, while the lack of acceptance within relevant social groups can refuse an LGBT person a sense of belonging.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights notes that "one of the most pervasive human rights violations on earth is the refusal to accept LGBT people into society" and argues that "ending this form of structural discrimination does not require international monitoring or enforcement, butthe persistent vigilance of the global community."
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LGBT individuals face greater physical health risks than heterosexuals. That type of people are at an elevated risk for contracting sexually transmitted infections like HIV/AIDS , due both to social stigma and to the higher prevalence of infection within their communities (the reason why they cannot easily access information, benefit from treatment programs or receive preventive care).
LGBT people are at a high risk for mental health problems (anxiety, depression, suicidality) and social isolation. Some studies suggest that up to 40% of homeless youth in the U.S. identify as LGBT.
It is important for societies to recognize these vulnerabilities experienced by LGBT individuals in order to protect their rights but also to protect their health and well-being.
What can we do to foster equality?
Education is the starting point for eradicating stigma, discrimination and abuse. LGBT people should be included in all types of educational activities, at all levels (primary, secondary, university). It is essential that educational materials include information on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Equal access to health care must be ensured for LGBT individuals. This includes access to HIV prevention and treatment programs, mental health services and accessible information about sexual orientation and gender identity. Access to specific services must also involve ensuring that doctors are aware of the particular needs of LGBT people.
Medical professionals need more training on how to provide care to LGBT people in an ethical, non-discriminatory way. This includes training on how to provide hormone replacement therapy (male-to-female, female-to-male) and other treatments for transgender youth.
Discrimination in employment is illegal in most countries, but it remains widespread. Even where discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identityisillegal, it is difficult to prove and therefore difficult to control.
LGBT people may be discriminated against in accessing social services such as shelters and housing options. This often leaves them without any shelter at all and more vulnerable to violence and abuse.
Transphobic and homophobic violence should be treated as a crime: perpetrators should be required to face imprisonmentand financial penalties.Making it more difficult for "honour crimes", such as honor killings, to go unprosecuted may help reduce the frequency of these types of violence.
LGBT individuals are still highly vulnerable to physical and sexual abuse, so governments must take measures against all forms of violence towards LGBT people (including corrective rape).
Accessible comprehensive health care is crucial for LGBT individuals, who often avoid seeking such care due to stigma and discrimination.
Any form of violence against them should be considered a serious crime and abusers should face strong penalties.