Each One Teach One: Spreading LGBT Equality
Members of the LGBT community are faced with a variety of challenges that can lead them to seek counseling. Although, as a nation, our acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people has steadily grown (especially within the last ten years); discrimination, marginalization and even oppression persist. Additionally, coming out to family, friends, and at work can be a difficult process. Depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and self-harm can result from the aforementioned social issues and necessitate finding a competent therapist to help sort through complex thoughts and feelings.
Perhaps you have a friend or loved one who is part of the LGBT community, and you’re wondering how you can show your support. Maybe someone has just recently come out to you and you are at a loss as to how to relate to them, as this is all new to you. You know you love them and want to be there for them, but you’re not sure how to demonstrate how much you care. Having your emotional support is invaluable, but what about when they’re out making their way in the world? You may worry about how they will be perceived and treated by those who aren’t so affirming.
Luckily, there are many ways for you to get involved in promoting LGBT equality. Joining PFLAG, the organization made up of parents, families, friends and allies committed to advancing equality and full societal affirmation of LGBT people at www.pflag.org, is a great way to start. Another organization you may be interested in supporting is the Human Rights Campaign at www.hrc.org. The following is a partial list of ways you can personally show your support for your LGBT friends or loved ones, created by PFLAG.
- Create social settings/opportunities that bring together your straight and LGBT family.
- Find opportunities to talk openly with your straight friends about LGBT issues.
- Always make sure to include the partner of your LGBT loved one in events and activities, just as you would anyone else’s significant other.
- Don’t permit anti-LGBT jokes or statements made in your presence to go unchallenged.
- Integrate inclusive language in all areas of your life, including professional interactions and spiritual life.
- Attend LGBT community events, such as Pride week in Orlando, October 6th-October 12, 2014 (check out the schedule of events, including the parade, at www.comeoutwithpride.com).
- Find out if your employer has an equal rights policy. If not, encourage them to adopt one.
Maybe you’re still wondering why it’s even necessary to advocate for LGBT rights in our society, when everyone already seems to enjoy equal freedoms. Well, here are some facts you may not know. According to Equality Florida, “throughout most of [the state], it is legal to fire someone or deny them housing or public accommodations because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.”40% of all homeless youth in America identify as LGBT. LGBT students are ten times as likely to experience bullying and twice as likely to have considered suicide. You can make a difference.
If you or someone you love in the LGBT community is struggling and in need of mental health counseling, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services in Orlando at 407-443-8862 and schedule an appointment with one of our licensed and dedicated therapists today.