This article was published on September 15th, 2020
Queen teens today have far more freedoms now than any other previous generation, with statistics enforcing the notion that many Millennials are more open about representing their gender and sexual identities. According to new reporting, there are more younger people that are identifying as something other than completely straight. Baby Boomers and Generation X teens were often been forced into boxes that Millennials and Generation Z people view as more constraining and not aligned with their ideals.
One of the components of this shift has been the introduction of the internet and social media which have allowed more queer youth to form communities that weren’t available to older generations. While there is a growing perception that LGBTQ+ youth have better support and security than their elders, there are still newer challenges and hostilities they have been forced to address.
Millennials and Generation Z now have the right to legally marry, enter the armed services, see positive media representatives, and join in community programs, but even with these advances, queer youth still have to face higher homeless and suicide rates, homophobia, and transphobia – ugly realities that still remain important today. The following are some of the issues that queer teens still have to face.
Queer Teens Are Coming Out Younger
Over the past few decades, the age of queer youth in the United Kingdom coming out has significantly decreased from an average age of 37 for people over 60, to a now 17 years of age for young people between 18-24. For American youth, the coming out age is even lower at 16, whereas in the 70s, it was 21.
Coming Out Is More Expected Among Queer Youth
While cisgender and heterosexual teens rarely discuss their gender identity or sexual orientation publicly, within LGBTQ+ circles now, it is more common – and even expected – for queer youth to come out. By coming out at such a young age, queer youth are sometimes expected to serve as representatives for the LGBTQ+ community.
Representation is extremely high for queer youth of today, who have access to gay content across all media. Less than a generation ago, there were few places to see queer characters, and many of those were considered half-hearted or token attempts at equality. Queer youth now have openly gay athletes to look up to, transgender actors, and gay politicians, many of which are committed to progressive causes.
The Internet & Social Media
The internet has created a virtual community that allows youth from all over the world to join organizations that provide services and support. Institutions like The Trevor Project, the ACLU, PFLAG, and more have provided a lifeline to queer youth that may not have access to certain services or groups in their town.
Safe Spaces at School
Learning institutions are now more advanced when it comes to dealing with the needs of its LGBTQ+ students, providing a supportive environment that nurtures and protects these students by providing safe spaces as a deterrent to discrimination and bullying.
Although tremendous progress has been made the past few generations, there is still work to be done in the LGBTQ+ community. By creating a welcoming environment that supports queer youth, the future generations will benefit from the groundwork that is being lain now to address LGBTQ+ issues.