June 2, 2022 | By Rachel Humphreys
June is Pride Month which commemorates years of struggle for civil rights and the ongoing pursuit of equal justice under the law for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community, as well as the accomplishments of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
At Affinity we want to ensure that students can be their true authentic selves without fear. In a recent survey, 13% of Affinity’s student respondents identified as LGBTQIA+. We want all students to feel valued, valuable, and safe. It is a top priority for our team to ensure mentoring is affirming of a student and family’s identity.
Our work is data driven, each programmatic decision is based on research and centers students’ wellness, both mentally and physically. Many students report that they do not feel like they “fit” in their school, as they might not feel a sense of belonging, purpose, and empowerment in the educational system. As noted in an earlier blog “DEI is it a Mission Drift” we highlight the importance of affirming student identities as an essential component of youth development and academic success.
Though some pieces of mentoring include things like supporting students in their reading and with homework, the critical difference between mentoring and tutoring is a relationship that focuses on building belonging, safety, and acceptance. Research consistently shows us that when students feel that they are fully accepted for who they are, that they have safe adults around them that care for them, accept them wholly, and they can go to for support and help, they succeed in many other areas of life, including academics.
These are not political ideas or opinions for us, we are simply using data to help drive our programming to have the best possible outcomes for students and families, exactly as we always have. For example:
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people ages 10 to 24.
- LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth.
- LGB youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
- Of all the suicide attempts made by youth, LGB youth suicide attempts were almost five times as likely to require medical treatment than those of heterosexual youth.
- Suicide attempts by LGB youth and questioning youth are 4 to 6 times more likely to result in injury, poisoning, or overdose that requires treatment from a doctor or nurse, compared to their straight peers.
- In a national study, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.
- LGB youth who come from highly rejecting families are 8.4 times as likely to have attempted suicide as LGB peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection.
- 1 out of 6 students nationwide (grades 9–12) seriously considered suicide in the past year.
- Each episode of LGBT victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.”
- More at: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/article/facts-about-lgbtq-youth-suicide/
We can impact these realities through ensuring mentoring is a space of belonging, safety, and acceptance; putting student voice and input at the forefront of our work and decisions; and focusing our efforts on supporting student growth in Social Emotional Learning, Leadership Skills, and Self-Esteem.
We invite you to learn, celebrate, and partner with us as we continue to grow. In addition, you can support LGBTQIA+ folx in our community by donating and patronizing local LGBTQIA nonprofits and businesses.
Support these nonprofit organizations that focus on supporting, celebrating, and advocating for the LGBTQIA community!
- AYA Youth Collective: Serving at-risk and homeless youth ages 14-24 in Kent County. We create communities, rooted in belonging, for youth to own their future.
- GR Pride Center: The Grand Rapids Pride Center offers multiple social & support groups, creating safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ+ community members.
- GR Trans Foundation: a local nonprofit dedicated to helping the Grand Rapids Trans community transcend barriers and build equity.
- GR Pride Festival (June 18): Grand Rapids Pride Festival is an event that brings LGBTQ community members, LGBTQ businesses, allies, and organizations together to celebrate diversity, inclusion, and celebrating who you are Proud To Be!
- Pride NIght Pop Up Concert (June 20)
Also stop in and support these local LGBTQIA owned businesses!