Summer of lockdown and racism has left a troubling mark on overwhelming majority of queer youth, eye-opening study finds

LGBT+ loneliness pandemic

Three-quarters of trans and non-binary youth have reported increased loneliness during the pandemic, with a similar number of young LGBT+ people reporting that images of violence against Black people has had a negative impact on their wellbeing.

A new survey, released Friday (October 2) by Morning Consult and The Trevor Project, interviewed 1,200 young people between the ages of 13 and 24 throughout July 2020, comprised of 600 LGBT+ youth and 600 straight and cisgender youth.

It found that 69 per cent of LGBT+ youth as a whole had experienced increased loneliness since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This number increased to 75 per cent for trans and non-binary youth.

More than half of queer youth experienced anxiety or depression during the pandemic, a figure which rose to around two-thirds of trans and non-binary youth.

The pandemic has meant that many queer young people are isolated from their communities and chosen families, and in some cases have been forced to move back into unsupportive home environments. 

The poll showed that 41 per cent of LGBT+ youth felt that COVID-19 impacted their ability to express their identity. Again, the situation was worse for trans and non-binary young people, with more than half being impacted.

As well as the pandemic, lockdown and dealing with loneliness, almost three quarters of LGBT+ youth said that news coverage, images and videos of violence against Black people in the United States have negatively impacted their well-being. An overwhelming majority — 82 per cent — of LGBT+ youth supported Black Lives Matter (BLM).

Trevor Project CEO and executive director Amit Paley said in a statement: “This year has been difficult for everyone, but it has been especially challenging for LGBTQ youth, and particularly Black LGBTQ youth, who have found themselves at the crossroads of multiple mounting tragedies.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, the volume of youth reaching out to The Trevor Project’s crisis services programs for support has, at times, doubled our pre-COVID volume.

“We’ve known that LGBTQ youth have faced unique challenges because of the countless heartbreaking stories we’ve heard on our 24/7 phone lifeline, text, and chat crisis services; but these findings illuminate the existence of alarming mental health disparities that must be addressed through public policy.

“And it’s abundantly clear that recent acts of racism and anti-Black violence have also had a profoundly negative impact on the mental health of our nation’s young people.”