Did you know that LGBTQ+ individuals have a higher risk of substance use and misuse than their heterosexual/cisgender peers?
Survey data from the 2019 VT Youth Risk Behavior Survey shows that Rutland County youth and young adults who identify as LGBTQ+ report higher rates of alcohol use (37% v. 31%) binge drinking (20% v. 14%) and past 30-day marijuana use (38% v. 26%), compared to their heterosexual/cisgender peers (VT Department of Health, 2019/2020).
Social stressors are also higher for LGBTQ+ youth and young adults which results in a significant difference in the number of individuals that report feeling sad or hopeless in the past year, 63% LGBT compared to 31% for heterosexual/cisgender (VT Department of Health, 2019).
Why is this important? The numbers do not lie. Our youth and young adults that identify as LGBTQ+ need support to reduce the disparities that they face, specifically with mental health and substance use. We have a shared responsibility to collaborate on initiatives that will support our Rutland County youth and young adults now and going forward.
June is National Pride Month. It is our goal to raise awareness and find opportunities to support our LGBTQ+ youth. By doing so we can help them be the best they can be as they move forward in their own personal journey. Together we can create not just a safety net, but tactics along with a network of support so that our LGBTQ+ youth and young adult voices feel heard and strengthened.
There are so many great organizations in Vermont and Rutland County that are working to elevate the voices of our LGBTQ+ youth and young adults.
Two great examples of such organizations are Outright VT and Queer Connect Rutland. Both organizations are working to support our community in diversity, inclusion, and education so that all feel welcome. A sense of belonging is so important for all youth and young adults, and even more so for LGBTQ+ individuals. This sense of belonging can aid in reducing substance use and misuse in the Rutland community and county wide.
Check out the following resources to learn more:
This information is brought to you by the Partners for Prevention. To join prevention efforts, please follow us on Facebook.