This is an LGBTQ+ safe space.

My daughter’s school dance on Saturday prompted a family conversation. I told my girls that the winter dance at my own high school was called “TWIRP” (the woman is required to pay).

They thought that was so weird: “What if both people are women?” 

I felt like an artifact from a different century (which I am) as I explained that, back in the day, same-gender couples didn’t attend dances together. I love that this was foreign to them.

Gendered traditions and expectations are changing in some places to embrace the broad range of normal human experience. (See recent popular culture celebrations of queer youth and love like Netflix’s “Heartstopper” and “Young Royals” and Amazon Prime’s “Anything’s Possible.”) Instagram users, check out Woke Doctors account, specifically their post about Black LGBTQ+ Icons.

In other places, not so much: homophobia and transphobia still thrive. Even in schools striving to be more inclusive and expansive, young people who identify as LGBTQ+ (or are perceived as such) experience harassment, bullying and violence. In some parts of the U.S., acceptance and acknowledgement are under direct attack.

I’m just going to say “the thing:” it’s a bizarre feeling to lead an organization like SAHRC–which exists to support state-level adolescent health coordinators–when many states are assertively dismantling public health supports for youth. 

I know that you know what this disconnect feels like.

Here’s how we’re managing our cognitive dissonance at SAHRC: we’re revising our core resources to make them more queer-friendly and gender expansive. We’re trying to ignore the hateful noise in the larger public discourse and dig deeper to challenge common adolescent health conventions that perpetuate homophobia and transphobia. We hope you’ll check out our updated “Stages of Adolescence” resources. (If you’re willing to help us update our Spanish translations, we’d love to hear from you.)

If you, too, are looking to do “the next right thing” (thank you, Anna from “Frozen 2”), we encourage you to join us in taking small steps (quietly if you have to) toward making your jurisdiction’s sexual health curricula, and dating violence and teen pregnancy prevention programs more inclusive of all our young people.

We know you, too, are deeply concerned about young people’s mental health status and the levels of isolation, loneliness, and stress they report. That goes double for those of us supporting youth population being targeted by adults(!) for policy bullying. 

We’re going to keep working to ensure that healthy youth development, in its many forms, is part of the solution.

Thanks for continuing to do the hard, systemic work to show up for all our young people. 

NNSAHC Insights

This space features diverse perspectives on what’s happening in adolescent health. Articles are submitted by guest writers from the Network and our national resource partners.

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