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This Pride Month, Let's Protect LGBTQ+ Youth

Rainbow colored pride flags flutter in the wind

In the United Stares, rates of sexual violence against young people (aged 13 – 18) are incredibly high. Nationally, approximately 11% of young people have experienced sexual violence within the past year. These numbers are troubling – and are even more concerning when the data for LGBTQ+ youth is examined.


Per a recent survey by The Trevor Project, 49% of LGBTQ+ youth report that they had been forced to do “sexual things” that they did not want to do in the past year. The prevalence of sexual violence in the LGBTQ+ community continues into young adulthood, with 46% of people aged 18-24 experiencing forced sexual contact.


Among LGBTQ+ youth, trans and nonbinary experience higher rates of forced sexual contact (44%) compared to their cisgender LGBQ peers (31%). In addition, LGBTQ+ youth of color report far higher rates of sexual violence compared to their white peers, as do those who are struggling financially (compared to their peers who are economically secure).


Why Are LGBTQ+ Youth at Higher Risk of Sexual Violence?


There are many reasons why LGBTQ+ are at higher risk of sexual violence – many of which involve bigotry or bias. For example, LGBTQ+ youth are far more likely to experience homelessness or housing instability after running away or being kicked out due to their LGBTQ+ identity. Homeless youth face far higher rates of sexual violence, including sex trafficking, compared to peers who have a secure living situation.


Other LGBTQ+ youth experience sexual violence as part of a hate crime. “Corrective rape” – or sexually assaulting an LGBTQ+ person to “correct” the individual and get them to conform to traditional gender norms and/or heterosexuality – is an example of how bias and bigotry can lead to sexual violence against LGBTQ+ people.


Sexual violence among LGBTQ+ youth may also be more prevalent because the victim is not “out” or is afraid to report the crime to their families, schools, or law enforcement. This can create a culture where people are more likely to engage in abusive or predatory behavior because they know the likelihood of facing consequences is low.


How We Can Protect LGBTQ+ Youth

There are steps that everyone can take to reduce sexual violence among young people generally – such as talking regularly and openly with our kids about topics like consent and healthy relationships. Because LGBTQ+ youth are at particular risk of sexual violence, it is important to address the root cause of much of this abuse: homophobia and transphobia.


LGBTQ+ youth are at higher risk for sexual violence because of their identity – whether it’s because their parents kick them out of the house or because someone assaults them specifically for being LGBTQ+. One of the best ways that we can protect LGBTQ+ youth is by taking a firm stance against all forms of anti-LGBTQ+ hate and bigotry.


According to a recent study, one of the best ways to protect LGBTQ+ youth from victimization is the safe, stable, nurturing relationships (SSNR) model. To create safe, stable, nurturing relationships, we can:


1.        Show support publicly for LGBTQ+ people;

2.        Support and link parents of LGBTQ+ youth;

3.        Advocate for inclusive faith communities;

4.        Advocate for positive policy changes; and

5.        Encourage LGBTQ+ youth groups to invite parents.


In other words, by speaking out and showing support for LGBTQ+ people, we can have a positive impact on youth who may be at risk for sexual violence. This includes standing up against LGBTQ+ hate, supporting laws that protect LGBTQ+ people, and making sure that people in their lives know how to best support LGBTQ+ people.


At Blackburn Center, we offer services to ALL victims of violence and crime We offer inclusive, affirming, trauma-based care for our clients. All of our services are or can be made accessible.

If you need help, we are here for you. Reach out anytime: 1-888-832-2272 (TDD available). All calls to our hotline are free of charge.



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