More than half of young Southerners who identify as LGBTQ+ have had thoughts of suicide—and almost 15 percent have attempted it. That’s according to a recent report from LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations Campaign for Southern Equality and Campus Pride.

The report focuses on the conditions of youth who identify as LGBTQ+ in the American South, estimated to be home to more than a third of the United States’ queer community. Respondents to a 2021 survey compiled by a team of sociologists, political scientists, and community organizers report challenges from mental health issues to bullying to outright rejection.

When asked to rate the supportiveness of parents and caregivers on a scale of zero (completely unsupportive) to 100 (very supportive), participants responded with an average score of 56.37 for support related to sexual orientation, and 51.80 for support related to gender identity. And more alarmingly, over half of respondents reported attempts by caregivers to repress or change their LGBTQ+ identities. 

Support is even more absent outside of the home. The majority of respondents described feeling threatened at school due to their gender identity (58.08 percent) or sexual orientation (73.06 percent). Almost 60 percent reported discrimination from their religious or faith community, while less than five percent of respondents reported receiving any support from spiritual or religious leaders.

“This lack of support and inclusion is disempowering and may cause detrimental harm to their mental and physical wellbeing,” said Austin H. Johnson, a research and policy director at the Campaign for Southern Equality. Data from the report suggests that he is right. On a 1-4 scale from poor to excellent, over two thirds of respondents rated their mental health as poor or fair, and only about five percent rated their mental health as excellent. 

“Young LGBTQ+ people are being forced to conjure immense strength and resilience to combat marginalization and isolation,” said Shane L. Windmeyer, the founder of Campus Pride. “It’s vital that we do everything we can, on every level of society, to support and affirm them for being who they are.”

You can access the full report here.

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