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Want to show LGBTQ kids that you’re a supportive ally? Want to share with transgender and gender diverse youth that they are important and valuable and safe? What perfect timing: National Coming Out Day and Stop Bullying Day are both being celebrated this week! Coming Out Day is on Tuesday, Oct. 11 and Stop Bullying Day is the next day, Wednesday, Oct. 12. 

National Coming Out Day is a day in which many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ+) individuals celebrate coming out. Many people may choose to come out for the first time on this day and many people celebrate already living their lives as their authentic selves while showing encouragement to those who are not yet safe or ready to share. Showing up as your authentic self requires bravery and resilience, especially for LGBTQ youth. In a world that continues to target them with anti-LGBTQ legislation, bans books about their identities and gives them messages that their identities aren’t real, it’s still quite hard for many LGBTQ+ kids to share who they really are.  

LGBTQ+ youth continue to be disproportionately bullied at school by their peers, and sometimes even at home by their family members. They feel unsafe, they are harassed, assaulted and isolated. According to the 2017 National School Climate Survey, 59.5% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation. Many youth feel that they would be safer on the streets than within the walls of their school.  

Stop Bullying Day is a day dedicated to uniting all people together and celebrating their differences. It’s a day to promote kindness, acceptance and inclusion for everyone. Because gender identity and sexual orientation remain one of the biggest reasons that kids are targeted in schools, it’s fitting that celebrating LGBTQ+ identities with National Coming Out Day is followed by a day to ensure that those who are living as their authentic selves have safe spaces to learn, play and grow. During these two critical days for supporting LGBTQ+ youth this October is a great time to learn more about how to be an ally to the transgender community.

Kindness and acceptance are vital to this world and for our youth, without these actions, it could truly mean life or death. Without love, kindness, acceptance and inclusion, the numbers tell us that the world they live in isn’t safe for LGBTQ youth:  

  • The National School Climate Survey reported that based on sexual orientation LGBTQ students 
  • Experienced verbal harassment (e.g., called names or threatened) at school: 70.1% 
  • Were physically harassed (e.g., pushed or shoved): 28.9% 
  • Were physically assaulted (e.g., punched, kicked, injured with a weapon): 12.4% 
  • LGBTQ+ youth who are highly rejected by their families are 8 times more likely to have attempted suicide, whereas the risk is significantly decreased when parents and families are supportive. 
  • So far, 2022 has been the worst year on record for anti-transgender legislation, and many bills specifically targeting transgender and gender diverse kids. 
  • Transgender youth are far more likely than their non-transgender peers to experience depression — nearly four times the risk, according to one study (Reisner 2015). 

These numbers are devastating to read – and dangerous to experience. But there is another number that is just as powerful: One. One supportive adult is all that it takes to reduce the risk of an LGBTQ+ youth person contemplating suicide by 40%. One of you is all it takes to save a young person’s life. All kids deserve to grow up happy, healthy, safe and strong, including transgender youth. All of our kids and the diversity of their identities enrich the world and our lives, let’s use this month to show them how valuable, important and loved they are. The culture is shifting and the time is now to create safe and affirming spaces and drive meaningful change. 

Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, (they/she)
Chief education officer, chief of staff and medical director of the Gender Health program

Dr. Angela Kade Goepferd, (they/she), is the chief education officer, chief of staff, pediatrician and medical director of the Gender Health program at Children’s Minnesota. Dr. Goepferd is an advocate for advancing equitable health care for all children – including trans and gender-diverse youth. They have been named a Top Doctor by both Minneapolis/St. Paul Magazine and Minnesota Monthly for the last several years and gave their first TED talk, “The Revolutionary Truth about Kids and Gender Identity” at TEDx Minneapolis in 2020.
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Alexandra Rothstein