Continuing with our psychology Pride Month celebrations, I am super excited to take a developmental psychology perspective in this episode by focusing on how can LGBT+ youth focus on healing, resilience and thriving into adulthood in the face of horrendous acts against our community. If you enjoy learning about developmental psychology, mental health and LGBT+ psychology then you’ll love today’s episode.
Note: please note that for the rest of the podcast episode I’m going to use the terms gay and LGBT+ interchangeably and to mean the same thing. I’m doing that because saying gay is so much easier to type on the blog post and say on the podcast, so if I offend you I’m sorry.
Today’s episode has been sponsored by Developmental Psychology: A Guide To Developmental And Child Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at https://www.payhip.com/connorwhiteley
Why Do LGBT+ Youth Need Resilience?
However, it could be argued that gay youth need more resilience than non-gay youth because of the discrimination, mass shootings and acts of mass violence encountered by members of this community. For example, the mass shooting at Club Q in the USA in 2022 is a mere drop in the ocean of every single act of legislative and mass violence portrayed against the gay community.
This is important for psychologists to take note of because discrimination goes hand in hand with oppression and this in turn leads to increased suicide rates among gay youth (Horwitz et al., 2020).
Therefore, gay youth need to learn resilience and learn to thrive in this world so this fear, oppression and acts of discrimination don’t begin to control them or define them as a person.
In addition, everyone can help to create a safer world for everyone at school, the workplace and the at home. This can be done by creating a more inclusive space as well as adults can nurture resilience in all gay youth, so these youths can have the increased capacity to navigate biases against them, heal and thrive in life.
That is the most important thing about this episode. I want to give gay youth the ability to thrive in life.
Furthermore, a lot of people might think that resilience is just another term for grit and that everyone just needs to soldier through. I do understand that bad definition but resilience is more than that because it resilience needs to be nurtured through making sure a gay youth has supportive relationships and environments where they feel safe.
Personally, this is why I will always be extremely grateful to my best friends growing up because they were amazing. No matter what happened, what was said about my community or anything else, they made sure I was okay, loved and supported. That is why I am a resilient person first and foremost, and I call myself a survivor.
In addition, resilience starts by valuing young gay youth and affirming that they’re okay. This is something I cannot stress enough and this honestly sounds so stupid to me, but it is so true. Simply telling a gay person that they are okay, there is nothing wrong with them and they shouldn’t have to hear the hate is so powerful. It is actually the reason why I cried so much during Heartstopper on Netflix because that show said everything I had ever wanted something to tell me.
Linking The Resilience Of LGBT+ Youth To Developmental Psychology
Focusing on the developmental psychology content here, a person’s affirmations depend entirely on their identity. This is a critical part of adolescence, where every single teenager learns who they are and their identity is central to the mental health of all teens, regardless of sexuality.
Also, I have to mention it here that when I talk about gender identity, this is the social construct, and this is completely different to biological sex.
Therefore, developmentally speaking, gender identity for everyone develops over time and adults can affirm gender identity by learning youths’ pronouns depending on what they want to be called. And believe me, this does take practice and that’s perfectly okay.
And I think one of the biggest right-wing myths here is that transgender and non-binary people get angry if you make a mistake. That isn’t true in the slightest. They only get angry if you’re intentionally being a horrible person. Yet one of my author friends is non-binary and become I learnt that I called them “her” because they were a biological woman so I just presumed on the book recommendation I was writing.
Were they mad?
Of course not, I just got a polite message in my inbox asking me to change “she” to they and I did it. It wasn’t hard and I was promoting a new Kickstarter they had coming out earlier today and I used their pronouns correctly. I almost didn’t by accident but I was trying to be respectful.
That is what this is all about and if you make a mistake, no one care as long as you’re respectful enough to learn from it.
I will admit (and tons of others will too) that it takes a lot more practice to use the “them/ they” pronouns for a single person because it goes against a lot of grammar rules. Like I had to restructure some of my sentences above but I don’t mind. Yet in all honesty, when it comes to making a young person feel safe and loved and valued, no one should ever give a toss about grammar structures and words.
What’s The Research On LGBT+ Youth?
Moreover, when it comes to the evidence base, a Gallup Poll mentioned to Generation Z are 7 times more likely to than Baby Boomers to identify as LGBT+. Just remember that this is up from a tiny, tiny sample of the population at the start. As well as 3.5% to 27% of teens are transgender, non-binary or otherwise non-comforting in the USA (Gower et al., 2022). But I will note that this isn’t nationally representative data and this is only from the USA.
Nonetheless, of course this increased gender diversity seriously does not make society any safer for gay youth and as much as I don’t want to pick on the USA. Considering the amount of anti-gay laws that have been introduced so far in 2023, society is far from safe for gay youth and I am seriously scared to learn about the suicide numbers whenever someone decides to study them.
All because discrimination and trauma are widespread leading to increased rates of mental health difficulties, suicide, homelessness and physical health concerns too.
Moreover, when it comes to the school environment, transgender youth are two times more likely to be bullied than cisgender youth and 29% of them have been injured or threatened with a weapon at school. That is disgusting. Also, as of 2022 in the USA, 60% of adults believe (remember this is public belief not fact) that gender is determined by sex at birth, increasing by 6% from 2017 (Parker et al., 2022). As well as whilst about two-thirds believe transgender people need to be protected in law against discrimination, a majority still believe that progress towards trans right have gone far enough or too far entirely.
Resulting in some US states limiting the healthcare these people are able to receive. Something else I find beyond disgusting.
How Can LGBT+ Youth Resilience Be Nurtured?
Moving onto the unofficial tips section of this psychology podcast episode, I want to mention that a recent study found a massive way that adults and others can support a gay youth is to use their correct pronouns to affirm their identity, actually have a respectful conversation about their LGBT+ identity and this was found to reduce suicide attempts by 40%.
And I can personally say that having that simple conversation about their gay identity is so, so powerful in making a youth or anyone for that matter feel respected. I would love to that have a conversation with my family but it hasn’t happened yet.
Furthermore, another way to nurture and respect gay youths are to respect their expression, be this through clothing or hairstyle choices. Because seriously how does what a kid wears impact or make the family look bad? Also, adults learning about LGBT+ issues instead of thinking they know everything.
This is a massive problem that I have with certain people I know, they moan and groan and completely invalidate me and my community thinking they know everything about an LGBT+ issue. When in reality every single thing they say is wrong and I have to force myself not to laugh at their ignorance.
Again, my problem isn’t that they don’t know the stuff, it is how they pretend to know everything knowing I am gay and continuing to believe their complete disregard for me and my community doesn’t impact me at all.
Anyway, just having conversations between parents, welcoming their partners and creating a positive environment can reduce suicidal thoughts as well.
Developmental Psychology Conclusion
As we start to wrap up today’s podcast episode, I want to say that regardless of sexuality, all teenagers and youths need adults to act as guardrails as they journey towards adulthood. This means enforcing healthy boundaries and limits but never when it comes to identity (be it gender or sexuality). Since come on, every single youth hates screen time limits but it is just part of being a teenager and there is no problem with limits like that.
Yet when an adult or another teenager for that matter questions or wants to debate the very existence of a teenager’s identity then that isn’t okay. Since that can start a teenager towards hating themselves and their lives leading to mental health difficulties and in the worse situations, suicide.
No one will ever lie and say that nurturing resilience in a child is easy. Due to part of it is an adult or another teenager admitting their own mistakes and learning from them. Be it when they don’t use the right name (like deadnaming a transgender person) or pronoun or failing to offer any type of support to them. When this happens saying sorry can be hard as can allyship.
However, these mistakes can be simply overcome by correcting ourselves in the moment or listening and learning at times.
Everyone needs to make sure that we create a safe space for gay youth to be themselves, valued and they can thrive once they have cultivated that most important sense of resilience.
Finally, societal change will always be a fight and ongoing considering most of the time it feels that society seeks to criminalise, restrict healthcare and simply deny that LGBT+ youths exist in the first place. That will always be an uphill battle. Yet the most important change that will benefit youths in the short-term and in day-to-day interactions is so much simpler and easier than everyone would ever believe.
Just be kind, respectful and validating and you really never know, you might have just saved a life and put a gay youth on the path to becoming resilient, healing and thriving.
I really hope you enjoyed today’s social psychology podcast episode.
If you want to learn more, please check out:
Developmental Psychology: A Guide To Developmental And Child Psychology. Available from all major eBook retailers and you can order the paperback and hardback copies from Amazon, your local bookstore and local library, if you request it. Also, you can buy the eBook directly from me at https://www.payhip.com/connorwhiteley
Have a great day.
Developmental Psychology and LGBT+ Psychology References
Horwitz, A. G., Berona, J., Busby, D. R., Eisenberg, D., Zheng, K., Pistorello, J., Albucher, R., Coryell, W., Favorite, T., Walloch, J. C., & King, C. A. (2020). Variation in Suicide Risk among Subgroups of Sexual and Gender Minority College Students. Suicide & life-threatening behavior, 50(5), 1041–1053. https://doi.org/10.1111/sltb.12637
Gower, A. L., Rider, G., Brown, C., & Eisenberg, M. E. (2022). Diverse sexual and gender identity, bullying, and depression among adolescents. Pediatrics, 149(4).
Parker, K., Horowitz, J. M., & Brown, A. (2022). Americans' complex views on gender identity and transgender issues.
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