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Coming out: Experts highlight mental health challenges and resources for LGBTQ youth

Coming out can present a multitude of emotions for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. While it can be an exciting time in a person's life, it can also be filled with uncertainty.

Dr. Jill Hingston, Director of Behavioral Health Services at the LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert in Palm Springs, has for many years helped numerous families navigate the process.

"I think today there is a misconception that its easier for kids to come out. Yes, people are more accepting now, generally, our whole society is more accepting. But for young people its still really hard. We still hear all the messaging that's all over the country about 'it's not okay' or 'we shouldn't be this way,'" according to Dr. Hingston.

A lack of acceptance from family and friends can lead to a number of difficulties for LGBTQ+ youth, including mental health challenges or worse.

"It can impact school performance. There's a lot of kids who quit programs, drop out school, all of that because they cannot be who they are," according to Dr. Hingston.

The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ+ young people (ages 13-24) seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.

The organization's 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People found that 41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, including roughly half of transgender and nonbinary youth. 

Dr. David Draper has been a licensed marriage family therapist for 28 years. Currently, his practice is located in Palm Springs where he meets with clients of all ages. Dr. Draper also believes that while its easier for youth to come out nowadays compared to previous generations, the process can still be very intense due to family, cultural, and religious pressures.

"I think the most important to do is to listen. On should never come out alone. It needs to be within a community of support. So as parents, as friends, as allies, its really important to listen," according to Dr. Draper.

The LGBTQ Community Center of the Desert has a number of resources available for LGBTQ+ youth and their family to help provide the support necessary to handle the coming out process.

The center's site in Coachella offers programming that focuses on parent education, along with programming and activities for youth.

Watch News Channel 3 at 5:00 p.m. for the full story.

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Jennifer Franco

Jennifer Franco is the weekend anchor/weekday reporter for KESQ News Channel 3


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