In Oregon and Washington, the Majority of LGBTQ Youth Report Having Anxiety and Depression

LGBTQ Youth: In 2021, the year the survey data was taken, 45 percent of LGBTQ teens reported having serious thoughts of suicide. However, sixty percent of young people in need of mental health services were unable to receive them. Pride flags representing the transgender community and the LGBT community are shown on June 2, 2022, on the right, next to the rainbow flag, popularly known as the gay pride flag, on the left.

Majority of LGBTQ Youth Report Having Anxiety and Depression

In this June 2, 2022 photo, we see the rainbow flag, often known as the gay pride flag, on the left and the transgender flag, on the right. Suicide prevention and mental health service provider The Trevor Project commissioned a 2022 poll on the state of LGBTQ youth’s mental health.

Anxiety symptoms have seen a rise in the three years since The Trevor Project began polling LGBTQ kids. The number of young people who report having suicidal thoughts has also increased. The study contains questions regarding mental health as well as national data on the percentage of young people who report having experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Data on how COVID-19 has affected their households are included in the poll as well.

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The Trevor Project has never before broken down national poll findings by state, but they did so for the first time this year.

Research in the States of Oregon and Washington

The LGBTQ adolescent population in the Pacific Northwest experiences the same mental health issues as their counterparts around the country.

44% of LGBTQ teens in Oregon who were questioned reported having “serious thoughts” about suicide within the previous year. In Washington, the percentage of LGBTQ young people who have pondered suicide is just slightly lower, at 41%.

Among young people identifying as transgender or nonbinary, the numbers were higher: 54% in Oregon and 49% in Washington. Over half of trans and nonbinary young people have thought about suicide at some point, with the rate being even higher among transgender men and boys. The majority of LGBTQ young people in Oregon (59%) who sought mental health care did not receive it. Among the primary causes was the stigma associated with discussing mental health issues with others.

The percentage of young people in Washington who reported wanting mental health care was 54%; while many of the same factors played a role as they did in the Oregon poll, some Washington youth also reported worrying about obtaining parental consent to use mental health services. More than 70% of LGBTQ adolescents in Oregon and Washington, according to data from The Trevor Project, have experienced discrimination.

Majority of LGBTQ Youth Report Having Anxiety and Depression
Majority of LGBTQ Youth Report Having Anxiety and Depression

Ninety percent of Oregon’s LGBTQ young people think that current politics have “sometimes” or “a lot” negatively impacted their lives. The percentage is 89% in the state of Washington.

Blair Stenvick of Basic Rights Oregon remarked, “Kids are paying attention, kids are hearing what adults are saying, whether you’re looking at things happening across the country, like ‘don’t say gay’ bills or trans sports bans, or whether you’re looking closer or local like school board politics here in Oregon.”

To put the stakes of it into perspective, “…

Pride Northwest is an annual parade held in downtown Portland to support the rights of the gay and lesbian community. To support gay and lesbian action, hundreds of people gathered in downtown Portland on June 14, 2015, for Pride Northwest.

A rainbow flag was displayed in the window of a Newberg, Oregon, elementary school, prompting a complaint after the local school board had previously established a policy prohibiting “political” emblems. An ACLU of Oregon chapter filed suit in response to the complaint, and a judge just ruled that the emblem prohibition violated the First Amendment. Parents and members of the community in Oregon are increasingly petitioning the State Library to remove books, particularly those that address the LGBTQ population.

The bulk of respondents in both states was under the age of 18, with a lesser percentage of respondents in the age range of 18-24. Most of the minority responders in Oregon were Latinx or multiracial, while 35% of the total were white. Over half of Washington’s respondents identified as white, with Latinx and Asian American/Pacific Islander teenagers making up the largest demographic of those who did not.

Many different things, from making food and listening to music to going to drag performances and having encouraging teachers, were cited as sources of happiness by today’s youth. LGBTQ children who “report reduced rates of suicide trying” are those who “live in welcoming communities” and “attend schools that are LGBTQ-affirming.”

Some parents, according to Stenvick, wrongly assume that welcoming pupils from all backgrounds won’t make their kids feel safe. However, I believe this data demonstrates the exact reverse. That it is the lack of such inclusive policies that pose the greatest threat to children.

Where Young People Who Identify as LGBTQ Can Find Community

Most LGBTQ young people in Oregon and Washington report strong support from peers but less from family. Over 70% of young people in both states report living in a “somewhat welcoming” or “extremely accepting” community.

“If teachers are out being LGBTQ,” read one response from Oregon; “My pronouns are honored and my chosen name is utilized,” read another from Washington. These are examples of the kinds of things that make settings supportive of LGBTQ students.

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On June 19, 2016, tens of thousands of people descended upon Northwest Portland for the city’s annual Pride Parade and Festival.
On June 19, 2016, tens of thousands of people descended upon Northwest Portland for the city’s annual Pride Parade and Festival, as seen in this file photo.

When asked about their experiences, more LGBTQ children in Oregon rated their homes as more affirming than their schools. As a matter of fact, things are exactly the contrary in the nation’s capital.

Efforts like the LGBTQIA+ Student Success Plan and ODE’s recommendations for schools on assisting trans children, according to Stenvick of Basic Rights Oregon, are tools that can be used to better serve LGBTQ students in Oregon.

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