More than 25 years ago, as a closeted gay teen, getting useful health information felt like winning the lottery. My high school PE class had a surprisingly comprehensive curriculum that covered not just sex ed, but mental health, addiction, nutrition, and more. In college, an on-campus LGBTQ+ Health Center was a haven of non-judgmental, life-saving knowledge.
Fast forward two decades, and I realize how lucky I was. A recent M Booth Health study – one that I was lucky enough to have the chance to work on – revealed a critical truth: Gen Z LGBTQ+ respondents ranked schools as one of their top sources of health information – higher than their non-LGBTQ+ peers. But in our current environment, access to vital health information is still a gamble for too many LGBTQ+ young people. Across the country, policies are cropping up like weeds, choking off access to knowledge that could safeguard their health and happiness. In places like Florida, even mentioning LGBTQ+ issues is forbidden. This isn’t just wrong, it’s a ticking time bomb putting young people at risk of real, tangible health consequences.
But amidst this darkness, our study uncovered a flicker of hope: Chosen Circles. Gen Z LGBTQ+ youth are building their own networks to find the health information they desperately need. This resilience is inspiring, but it shouldn’t have to exist. Government agencies, hospitals, healthcare providers, and even you can all play a crucial role in becoming part of their trusted health circle, offering resources and information tailored to their needs.
Because let’s be clear: healthy lives for LGBTQ+ youth shouldn’t be a matter of luck, but a right. We can’t leave their well-being to chance. Join me in demanding better, in becoming a source of light, and in ensuring that every young person, regardless of their identity, has the chance to thrive.
Read the full US News & World Report article: