The Challenges Facing Today's LGBTQ+ Youth

Steve Adubato goes on-location to the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey to speak with Lillian Rivera, Executive Director, Hetrick-Martin Institute: New Jersey, about unique challenges kids in the LGBTQ+ community face at home and in school.

4/20/19 #2211






"Steve Adubato here. We're at the Healthcare Foundation of New Jersey, and we just finished a really compelling conversation called Breaking the Cycle of Teen Abuse and Bullying. We are honored to be joined by one of the panelists who contributed so much to that conversation. She is Lillian Rivera, Executive Director at the Hetrick-Martin Institute: New Jersey. And the name Hetrick-Martin? Yeah. Hetrick and Martin, Damien and Emery, were partners And one was a psychologist, the other a psychiatrist. They were activists in the community. They helped do all sorts of things, like remove homosexuality from the DSM as a medical condition, and they heard about this young man… The DSM is what mental health professionals use as a diagnosis tool? Right? To diagnose folks with illnesses. Right. So homosexuality was in there, and they helped get it out of there. And they heard about a young person who was in a shelter, and the young person was assaulted by other young people. And the response of the adults in the space was, "Well, had you not been so gay, this wouldn't have happened to you." And hearing that story just, like, galvanized lots of energy and strength with their interest in creating safe spaces for LGBTQ youth, and knowing that lots of LGBTQ young people are disowned by their families. They figured they wanted to do something. So they started advocacy like, they started the organization, just like most organizations, in their living room with their friends. What's it today? Today it... 40 years. A huge organization. New York City and New Jersey is our first, you know, offshoot. It's interesting. In the conversation we had, the forum, that was so, as I said, compelling and candid, focusing on teen bullying and abuse, I want to follow up on something that we talked about there. To what degree do you believe that those who identify in the... or who are part of. They don't identify. They're part of the LGBTQ+ community. Mm hmm? Are they potential victims of abuse and bullying in ways that may be different than those who do not, who are not part of the community? Yeah. I think those really contribute to gender. Right? The irony is that we think it's about sexual orientation and who people are attracted to, but it's really about gender. And for a boy who is much more masculine, and doesn't disclose that they're gay, they're less likely to be a target. But for a boy who's very feminine, he's very likely to be a target. Of abuse and bullying? Absolutely. Because he's going beyond our expectations of gender, and gender influences our lives in ways that we don't even..."