Rhode Island LGBTQ Youth Need Better Access to Substance Use-Prevention Resources

February 13th, 2020 | News


In Rhode Island and nationwide, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) population faces social stigma, discrimination, harassment, and violence that people who are heterosexual and cisgender do not. The ramifications of this violence are exacerbated in adolescence. As a result, LGTBQ youth are at a higher risk for both physical and behavioral health problems, including substance misuse. While this often-ignored group of people has the greatest need for substance use-prevention support and messaging, it has the least access to resources.

We recently released a report on the effects of substance misuse within the LGBTQ student community in five Rhode Island cities and towns. This first-of-its-kind report was conducted in partnership with the Tri-Town Community Action Agency and funded by the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Hospitals. It indicates that Rhode Island LGBTQ youth substance use rates are twice as high as those of their heterosexual, gender-conforming peers, yet their needs are largely ignored.

Our recommendations for remedying this problem include:

  • Providing LGBTQ affirming education and sensitivity training to parents, caregivers, and service providers.
  • Creating LGBTQ youth supportive spaces.
  • Developing protective policies to reduce LGBTQ youth substance misuse.

Further, including gender and sexuality in school curriculums and funding drug-free LGBTQ-friendly community programs would benefit all youth.

Read the full report here

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