Support, Safety, and Security: Resources for 2SLGBTQIA+ Adolescent Clients and Families
As explored in a previous article by the Oklahoma Counseling Institute, the health and social effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have led to a significant increase in mental health-related problems and feelings of isolation among members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community. In fact, the stress of the pandemic may exacerbate the feelings of isolation and mental health concerns by which teen and adolescent members of the community are already disproportionately affected. Mental health clinicians who serve 2SLGBTQIA+ adolescents may find that their clients could benefit from additional support, including:
The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted a need for virtual connection services. Thankfully, there are many national organizations that provide support through online communities. For example, Q Chat Space is a monitored live chat room for 2SLGBTQIA+ teens that gives a safe space for youth to connect through facilitated discussion on various topics, including support, hobbies, and resources. For more immediate support, The Trevor Project also hosts a 24/7 live chat monitored by crisis counselors that allows 2SLGBTQIA+ adolescents to receive support and resources confidentially and without cost.
For those preferring to connect face-to-face, the Oklahoma City and Tulsa metros are both home to in-person, facilitated support groups for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. In Oklahoma City, Kaleidoscope offers support groups and meetups specifically for 2SLGBTQIA+ children, adolescents, and parents. Also in OKC, NorthCare sponsors the Q Space, a support group for teens and young adults within the community. In Tulsa, the Oklahoma Equality Center hosts Alphabet SOUP each Saturday night. At Alphabet SOUP, teens ages 13-17 meet to play games, watch movies, and listen to guest speakers as they connect with other 2SLGBTQIA+ peers. The Diversity Center also hosts a monthly Transgender Youth Support Group. Also in the metro, the Tulsa Opera sponsors the Youth Choir for 2SLGBTQIA+ children ages 10-17.
Wellness, Safety, and Security Resources
According to the Trevor Project, 28% of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth have experienced housing instability and research has found that those within the community have a 120% higher chance of experiencing homelessness in some form compared to non-2SLGBTQIA+ individuals. In Oklahoma, SISU Youth Services aims to support teens and young adults within the community through providing meals, shelter, case management, and more. The PFLAG of Oklahoma City website also hosts a list of community resources, including legal help, education, health care, and more. Last, the University of Oklahoma’s Health Sciences Center provides an array of gender affirming medical services.
Many public schools in the metro host Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) organizations, which provide peer support for 2SLGBTQIA+ high school students. To find out if a school hosts a GSA organization, contact the school administrators’ office.
Resources for Parents
As previously mentioned, Kaleidoscope is an Oklahoma City-based organization that provides peer support services for both 2SLGBTQIA+ youth and their parents. In Tulsa, the Diversity Center also hosts support groups for parents of Transgender and Non-Binary children. The national PFLAG organization provides free resources and supportive guides for parents, grandparents, and families of 2SLGBTQIA+ youth.
Mental Health Crisis Services
Being that research suggests 2SLGBTQIA+ youth are at a greater risk for experiencing suicidal ideation and that having affirming support is linked to a reduction in the rate of suicide attempts, it is important that clients receive affirming mental health treatment in all levels of care. Thankfully, Cedar Ridge is home to the NEST, an in-patient hospitalization program specifically for 2SLGBTQIA+ youth. Staff within the NEST Program have training in providing inclusive, affirming care to adolescents within the community.