BY BTL STAFF
WASHINGTON D.C. – The HRC Foundation and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids released a new brief Oct. 29 titled “Preventing Substance Abuse Among LGBTQ Teens” as a guide to help parents, educators and other youth-serving professionals understand the unique challenges – including bullying and family rejection – faced by LGBT youth that contribute to their heightened rates of substance abuse.
The publication is the first product of a new collaboration between the educational arm of the HRC, the HRC Foundation and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, a national nonprofit working to reduce substance abuse among adolescents.
“We’re excited by this opportunity to reach the parents and families of LGBT kids via our online resources, our telephone helpline (855-DRUGFREE) and parent coaching program, and provide them with research-based materials that can help reduce family conflict and rejection, strengthen acceptance and lead to healthier LGBT youth,” said EVP Research and External Relations at the Partnership, Sean Clarkin.
Together the organizations developed content and materials for LGBT teens, parents and families designed to promote understanding and provide practical guidance on protecting LGBT youth, along with reducing their risk of drug and alcohol abuse through better family support, safer schools and more caring adults in communities.
Among the issue brief’s recommendations to reduce the risk of substance abuse by LGBT youth:
Parents and caregivers are encouraged to discuss their concerns and expectations about substance use with teens, focusing on health risks and asking teens to share their perspectives;
Parents, educators and youth-serving professionals should actively affirm and support LGBTQ teens’ sexual orientation and gender identity;
Educators and youth-serving professionals are urged to confront bias and create supportive environments for LGBTQ teens;
And policymakers should fund research into substance abuse prevention, address LGBTQ youth homelessness and eliminate zero-tolerance policies for drug violations.
Additionally, the Partnership and HRC Foundation will work together to expand the visibility and participation of LGBT youth in teen-targeted programming, including Above the Influence, the Partnership’s teen substance abuse prevention campaign that reaches millions nationally through social media, public service announcements and community-based activities.
“This collaboration strengthens our efforts to ensure that the unique experiences and needs of LGBTQ youth are recognized and addressed, by parents and teachers, as well as professionals who provide substance abuse prevention and treatment services,” said Ellen Kahn, director of the children, youth and families program at the HRC Foundation. “It’s critical that higher rates of substance use among LGBT youth be understood and addressed in a context of understanding and support.”
To read the full issue brief, please visit http://hrc.org/teensubstanceabuse.