Pride month falls every June and presents an opportunity to recognize the contributions that the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community (LGBT) has made throughout history. Whether through presidential statements or parades, Pride is about embracing our identities, breaking down stigmas, and promoting acceptance of people for who they are. And it is undeniable that the LGBT community has made tremendous progress in a relatively short amount of time that is certainly cause for celebration.
Youth in particular have played a large role in bringing about such acceptance, and serve as an important indicator in the progress we have made so far. According to research by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), roughly 90% of young people are out to their friends, and 64% are out at school. These are remarkable numbers. Not to sound old, but when I was in high school I could count the number of “out” students on one hand – and I wasn’t one of them.
But we’ve still got our work cut out for us. The same research done by HRC showed that 92% of young people hear negative or disparaging comments about LGBT people while at school, on the internet or from their peers, and 42% report that their communities aren’t accepting of LGBT individuals. Even more alarming is the fact that LGBT youth report facing physical threats and harm twice as often as their straight counterparts. Bullying, whether online or at school, is clearly still a problem that needs addressing.
This juxtaposition between LGBT youth embracing their identities and sharing it with their peers, and the threats and harm they face in school as a result of it, is exactly why we need the Emotion Revolution. By engaging high school students around social and emotional learning (SEL), Born This Way Foundation and the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence will help empower youth to bring about positive change in their schools, create safe learning environments, and see that SEL is a priority in their classrooms and communities. When students feel safe in their learning environment, empathize with the feelings and emotions of others, and build meaningful relationships with one another, we can ensure that young people, LGBT and otherwise, can lead happy and healthy lives.
So as we wrap up Pride month this year, be sure to not only celebrate the progress the LGBT community has made so far, but also join the #EmotionRevolution and do your part to help create safe learning environments for all youth across the country.
James currently lives in Washington, DC where he works in non-profit fundraising, development and external communications. He has extensive experience in social justice and progressive advocacy including health care accessibility, LGBT electoral politics, and K-12 and higher education. He is a proud alumnus of Arizona State University and enjoys running, crossfit and his monthly gay book club meetings.