Jon, 17, had his bags packed for days before he finally chose to go to a Safe Place site instead of school. While not abused, he couldn’t take the emotional turmoil and fighting at home anymore. His father’s disappointment with Jon coming out as a gay man worked its way into every interaction.
Jon heard about Safe Place during a summer empowerment camp for teens and when he decided to leave home he knew where to go. He was taken to a shelter where he worked things out with his father and made arrangements to live with other family members. *The name has been changed to protect the anonymity of the individual.
Unfortunately, Jon’s story is not unique. Teens who self-identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender or questioning face extreme adversity, not only in society, but often within their own homes. Research indicates greatly increased rates of suicide, violence and victimization for LGBTQ youth in comparison to heterosexual youth.
Since many youth begin to date and have relationships with each other in middle and high school, many LGBTQ teens begin to self-identify as such during this time. This can often lead to rejection, verbal harassment and physical violence from their families and peers.
Youth Connections’ Safe Place Coordinator, JoAnna Tucker, urges teens to reach out to adults for support when dealing with bulling in any circumstance, whether it be verbal or physical. “So many teens feel like they have no where to turn. We are here to help change that.”
For youth who are struggling with their sexuality, Safe Place can be a valuable resource. Youth Connections offers support for youth and families in need, including temporary shelter and wrap-around services for those families working through a difficult time. Safe Place is available 24-hours a day by calling or texting 317-727-2571.