LGBTQ youth in America are at higher than average risk for being bullied, harassed and attempting suicide. Having support from a trusted adult through mentoring can be key in helping these young people confront and cope with the challenges they face while exploring their sense of identity. In part 2, learn more about BBBSA’s LGBTQ Mentoring program.
Ann Rodhe Payes of Big Brothers Big Sisters of America joins Robert Traynham for a meaningful discussion on how her organization is providing LGBTQ youth with mentors and other available resources to tackle this issue.
Interview recorded June 14, 2017. Hosted by Robert Traynham. Part 2 of 2.
Read a partial transcript of this interview below:
Traynham: So, Ann, speaking of help, what are some of the programs you have in place? Is it perhaps finding LGBTQ “bigs”? In other words, mentors that perhaps are in the same community or same sexual orientation. Is it youth programs or a combination of all of those things? What might it be?
Payes: It is a combination. It’s not necessary that a mentor be part of the LGBTQ community, but that is certainly welcome. And we want to match a child with an adult who can help them by being positive influence, have some of the same interests, and help them find the resources that they need during this process.
Traynham: Ann, if I’m a parent, if I’m a loved one, a neighbor, and perhaps I know someone that is a member of the LGBTQ community who may not have a mentor or perhaps maybe, unfortunately, suffers from depression or has attempted suicide, where can I steer them to get some help?
Payes: Well, Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America has some resources on our website, and each of the local affiliates will have resources, as well, as we continue our outreach with the LGBTQ community. So the national website is bbbs.org, and that’s a great place to get started and find your local resources.
Traynham: A few moments ago, you mentioned, unfortunately, there was a trend. Was that in Delaware? And if so, what did that look like?
Payes: It was. Delaware had seen an up tick in suicides among all youth, and they had a particular cluster that was homosexual youth, and they decided that that was really an opportunity when they saw that more children needed services. They saw data that supported it from the Centers for Disease Control, and then they really decided everyone needs help.
Traynham: I’m curious — any particular why Delaware? Was that just a fluke or was there something maybe in the media or perhaps something that triggered that?
Payes:That’s a great question. I really believe Delaware was collecting a lot of data, and they had the opportunity to look at a small microcosm.
Traynham:Well, that’s perfect, because my next question would be, based on the best practices out of Delaware, have you multiplied that across the country?
Payes: We have. The initial pilot to serve kids in the LGBTQ community is in Seattle, Nashville, Chicago, Philadelphia, Richmond, Virginia, and then Delaware was really a pioneer in this.
Traynham: You know, I’m very proud to hear that. Some of those states that you mentioned are in Southern states or rural states because, from what I understand, unfortunately, in some Southern states and also in some rural states, the resources, if you will, if you’re LGBTQ may not be there as opposed to an urban area.
Payes: That’s really true. And so Big Brothers, Big Sisters partners with other agencies in the area, but at the same time, it is teaching our mentors how to be inclusive, which is not just being diverse, but it’s also supporting how different cultures build on one another.