Published: September 7, 2023
The spectrum of struggles encountered by LGBTQIA+ youth in military families remains largely unexplored, residing in the peripheries of common public consciousness. Nevertheless, these challenges are authentic, multilayered, and demand our immediate attention. Blue Star Families, via the Combat the Silence and research initiatives, acknowledges this concealed burden and pioneers innovative strategies to address it.
In Blue Star Families’ 2022 Military Family Lifestyle Survey (MFLS) our research unveiled that 8% of active-duty family respondents with at least one child in grades K-12 had a child or children (20 years old or younger) who identified as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Furthermore, 2% stated they had a child who identifies as transgender. Alarmingly, 6% of the respondents whose child had experienced bullying, revealed that the prejudice was linked to their child’s perceived gender identity or sexual orientation.
The Trevor Project unearthed startling statistics that demonstrate the unique mental and physical health risks experienced by this community: LGBTQIA+ youth hailing from military families grapple with mental health adversities and suicide risks, significantly higher than their heterosexual peers and even their LGBTQIA+ counterparts who don’t have military parents. Their life journey is punctuated by distinctive stressors such as recurrent displacements, separations due to military missions, and anxiety for their parents’ safety. Each move might also entail the hardship of finding an accepting community and the emotional turmoil of disclosing their sexuality anew.
These poignant figures underscore the essentiality of the Combat the Silence mission by Blue Star Families in reimagining a more empathetic and supportive world for these vulnerable youngsters. The strategy rests on galvanizing community support, understanding their distinctive stressors, and offering resources that affirm their LGBTQIA+ identity.
Blue Star Families appreciates the monumental influence of familial backing. As corroborated by both the Trevor Project’s findings and the MFLS report, LGBTQIA+ youth with military parents who received strong family support were significantly less prone to mental health issues and suicide risks. Consequently, initiatives such as Blue Star Support Circles were conceived to enhance familial and community support, facilitating a safe space for dialogue, understanding, and acceptance.
In parallel, we urge mental health professionals serving military families to cultivate LGBTQIA+-affirming and culturally competent practices. We believe this would significantly improve the quality of life for LGBTQIA+ youth with military parents, curbing their risks and bolstering their mental well-being. To learn more about the Staff Sergeant Fox Grant, our Military Family Lifestyle Survey, or the Combat the Silence campaign, visit www.bluestarfam.org/blue-star-support-circles.
Blue Star Families maintains an unwavering vigil against military suicides, reaching out to protect and empower LGBTQIA+ youth in military families. We envision a world where these young souls feel acknowledged, understood, and supported, regardless of their parent’s military obligations. We created a safe, welcoming space in The Neighborhood Campaign for Inclusion digital community, where we invite you to touch on these often challenging topics. Because in this battle against silence and invisibility, every voice counts, and every life matters.