LGBTQ youth ‘trapped in homes with' unsupportive parents amid pandemic: Trevor Project CEO

Many LGBTQ youth were impacted by the closure of non-essential businesses amid the pandemic.

They had to “come out to their parents or go back into the closet, and in both cases, very challenging decision,” Amit Paley, CEO of the Trevor Project, told Yahoo Finance. “We hear these types of stories every day at the Trevor Project and our call volume has at times been more than double our typical volume. So it’s a huge impact on the mental health of LGBTQ youth."

The Trevor Project is a non-profit that provides a national 24/7 hotline for LGBTQ youth in crisis. Its recent 2021 annual national survey on LGBTQ mental health published in May revealed that 42% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide, up from 40% in their previous survey.

“The stay at home orders have been very difficult...if [LGBTQ youth] don’t have supportive families or parents, they would find that support in other physical settings [prior to the pandemic]. And so being trapped in homes with parents or families that are unsupportive could really have an impact,” he added.

Only 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth found their home to be LGBTQ-affirming amid the virus outbreak, according to the Trevor Project. Yet it’s spaces that affirm LGBTQ youth that help reduce suicide attempt rates, according to the non-profit.

Many LGBTQ youth have found support on social media. “Social media can be life saving. It allows them to have a sense of community. It allows them to connect with people who are like them. It allows them to feel less alone,” said Paley.

While many LGBTQ reported positive experiences with social media, 88% said it harmed their well-being, according to the Trevor Project.

“There is going to be hate that exists in the world and that can be challenging to face,” said Paley. “Be aware that there are many, many people in the world who not only are not hateful, but are going to celebrate and support LGBTQ youth for being who they are.”

The Trevor Project receives support in its mission of suicide prevention from numerous corporate partners, including FedEx, Bank of America, and Coca-Cola. Google has contributed more than $1 million to the organization.

“Google has been an incredible partner to the Trevor Project and helping us leverage technology to serve more LGBTQ young people. It’s not easy to provide high-quality service to young people who are counting on it,” said Paley. “A lot of the work we’ve been doing with Google has been: how can we leverage best practices in technology in the need that LGBTQ youth have and to help them get the best quality care that they have.”

Paley says some companies are actively seeking opportunities to make a difference.

“I think we are seeing that more people are looking at companies and saying, ‘Is this company taking steps to make the world a better place?’ And that is part of the calculus that consumers are making in deciding where to put their dollars,” Paley said.

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