Supporting Students During Pride Month

By Gil Manzano, SHRM-SCP, Senior Director, Operations, ACI Specialty Benefits, an AllOne Health Company

While Pride Month is primarily about individuals of the LGBTQ+ community having an opportunity to openly express being proud of who they are, it is also a time for family, friends, and allies to show their support.

However, coming to terms with being gay, lesbian, non-binary, transgender, or any other identity within the LGBTQ+ community can be terrifying, for many reasons.

There’s the stigma. Feeling “abnormal.” Rejection from family, friends, congregation, or coworkers. The risk of losing a job, a promotion, or even a career path. The possibility of being the victim of bullying or hate crimes.

These scenarios—and the related feelings and fears—often lead to thoughts of suicide, isolation, depression, anxiety, and other mental health struggles.

People need to know they’re not alone and resources are available to help guide them through these situations.

In the U.S., the percentage of LGBTQ+ individuals has climbed to 7.2%, according to a study released by Gallup in February 2023. That’s up from 5.6% in 2020, and 3.5% in 2012.

Other studies highlight their mental health challenges. According to the Trevor Project’s 2023 National Survey, fewer than 40% of LGBTQ+ young people found their homes to be affirming. Nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ young people said that hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school made their mental health a lot worse.

It is a fact that when LGBTQ+ individuals have a support system of family, friends, and peers, they are more likely to thrive. But that’s not always the case for people who come out. For that to happen, greater understanding is needed.

While it may not be easy for individuals to come to terms with being LGBTQ+, it can also be a difficult experience for their family and friends, who need to process any feelings of shock, denial, fear, guilt, or anger.

Pride Month is about acceptance, confidence, love, and respect. It’s an opportunity for individuals who are LGBTQ+ to learn that it is possible to combat feelings of shame, self-doubt, denial, unworthiness, or any other negative feelings.

It’s also an opportunity for friends and family to learn how to provide the love, support, and acceptance that LGBTQ+ individuals need.

The following resources are a good starting point:

If you or a family member would like additional support, please contact your Assistance Program. For additional resources or to access confidential online request forms, please visit member support.

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Supporting Students During Pride Month – Insights Newsletter