Helping LGBTQ teens navigate adolescence
Written by Dr. Mandakini Sadhir, a physician at UK Adolescent Medicine. This post is part of a series written by the team in Adolescent Medicine related to the unique health concerns faced by teens and young adults.
Adolescence is a time of physical, psychological and cognitive changes. It is an important phase for teens to discover who they really are, how they are perceived and how they fit into the environment they in which they live.
Sexual and gender identity development are two of the most important tasks young adults face during adolescence. For those who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ), these tasks can be a tremendous challenge.
LGBTQ teens face unique challenges
LGBTQ teens often cope with feelings of being different and face dilemmas about revealing their identity, which can be at odds with family and social expectations.
They may encounter family rejection, face harassment, prejudice, discrimination and social isolation in schools as well as communities. According to a national survey, many of these teens face verbal and electronic aggression in school. These experiences at school and the potential lack of family and community support affect the overall psychological and physical well-being of LGBTQ youth.
In fact, LGBTQ teens are eight times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. They are also three times more likely to engage in substance abuse, unprotected sexual intercourse and have multiple sexual partners leading to increased risk for sexually transmitted infections.
Additionally, transgender youth face unique challenges associated with the transition process including access to comprehensive health care and hormonal therapy.
How we can help
Research has shown that family acceptance and support promotes overall well-being and helps protect LGBTQ youth against risk taking behaviors. Our Adolescent Medicine Clinic at UK is committed to providing specialized and comprehensive care for LGBTQ youth in an inclusive and safe environment.
We also work with families to help them understand sexual and gender identity development and provide individual and family therapy.
Looking toward the future, our clinic is currently in the process of developing a multidisciplinary approach for providing a comprehensive health and hormonal therapy for transgender youth in the state of Kentucky.
To make an appointment with UK Adolescent Medicine, visit our website or call 800-333-8874.