Biden and His “As You Are” Campaign
In recent years, former Vice President Joe Biden has voiced his support for the LGBTQ community on various occasions. He and his foundation have launched a couple of programs to help LGBTQ people, including one that works with the YMCA to promote community outreach and training initiatives.
The Biden Foundation’s newest LGBTQ-focused program, the “As You Are” campaign, will allow LGBTQ youth and their loved ones to submit stories regarding their experiences on this website dedicated to the program. The Biden Foundation will then share these stories in speeches or on social media, with the goal that “they will serve to inspire, to create communities, to heal families, and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people,” according to representatives from the foundation. Their focus is on promoting LGBTQ acceptance within families.
The issues LGBTQ youth face from their families often goes unnoticed in society, which is why the Biden Foundation’s new social media campaign will help spread awareness about LGBTQ struggles and help families become more accepting towards their LGBTQ relatives. These effects are both crucial to reducing the prevalence of LGBTQ discrimination in society.
LGBTQ Youth vs. Family
Many LGBTQ youth face rejection or even abuse from homophobic or misinformed family members.
Rejection from family can manifest in overbearing concern and attempts to suppress the LGBTQ child’s identities. This kind of behavior is usually performed with good intentions, but it is still psychologically harmful to LGBTQ youth who are looking for support and acceptance from people they trust. Attempting to suppress an LGBTQ person’s identity and rejecting who they are as a person will only cause him or her to face self-doubt and will increase feelings of tension between them and their family members.
LGBTQ youth can also be subjected to domestic abuse from family members who refuse to accept their child’s identity. Children can also be forced to undergo conversion therapy measures, even though numerous scientific studies have found that conversion therapy is ineffective and harmful towards LGBTQ people. Many LGBTQ youth have run away from home due to unbearable rejection and abuse from family or were kicked out of the house because of their identities, which is part of the reason why 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ, according to the Williams Institute.
Importance of Family Acceptance
It is also important to note that family acceptance is crucial to the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth. Developing children and adolescents depend on parental figures for physical and emotional support.
Acceptance from family members also has an impact on a child’s mental health. According to data collected by San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Program, young LGBTQ people who face moderate rejection from family are about two times more likely to attempt suicide, and young LGBTQ people who face severe rejection are about eight times more likely to attempt suicide.
Rejection from family can also lead to substance abuse problems and the formation of mental illnesses in youth. Family Acceptance Program researchers report that 92% of LGBTQ youth with extremely accepting families say that they can grow up to be a happy LGBTQ adult, while only 35% of LGBTQ youth with non-accepting families think they will be happy in the future.
With this data in mind, it is important for parental figures to prioritize acceptance and tolerance of their LGBTQ children, no matter what their views are on LGBTQ people. Otherwise, their children will likely grow up feeling rejected and unhappy.
The Power of Social Media
The Biden Foundation and other organizations that are dedicated to helping LGBTQ people have recognized the struggles LGBTQ people can face because of family rejection and have made it their mission to promote acceptance within families in various ways. The Biden Foundation has chosen to use social media as the main medium for the “As You Are” campaign, which is a decision that will give the program potential.
Initiatives such as the Biden Foundation’s acceptance campaign has the potential to reach many people’s eyes, as the stories and messages that will be shared by LGBTQ can be transmitted quickly through the medium of social media. The stories published on social media by the Biden Foundation could be shared with or found by people with LGBTQ relatives. These people could read those stories and gain a greater understanding of LGBTQ people’s experiences, allowing them to apply their knowledge towards supporting the LGBTQ people in their own lives. In addition, the stories shared by the campaign will highlight the negative consequences of family rejection, which could motivate more people to help LGBTQ who are facing backlash from their families.
Hosting this campaign on social media will also make it more attractive to modern activists, who rely on the Internet to get their messages across, and LGBTQ people themselves. LGBTQ people have historically been attracted to online venues, as many websites such as forums dedicated to LGBTQ people and more popular sites like Twitter and Tumblr allow LGBTQ people be more open about their identities than they can be in real life as they can share their experiences anonymously.
The Biden Foundation is doing a good deed by encouraging family acceptance of LGBTQ people, and initiatives like theirs should be promoted and brought into the public eye. Family members with LGBTQ children or relatives should look into accurate information and advice regarding supporting their LGBTQ loved ones.
Furthermore, future programs should look into fixing more of the issues LGBTQ people face such as the high rate of homeless LGBTQ youth, AIDS, educational and employment discrimination, and the high rate of violence against people who identify as LGBTQ.
Programs like the True Colors Fund, which is targeted towards ending and preventing homelessness among LGBTQ youth, are already making strides towards helping LGBTQ people feel safe and accepted within society. People should spread the word about the work people are doing to help LGBTQ people, and they should also contribute to activist organizations in any way they can through donating, volunteering, or spreading awareness.
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