Reverend: LGBTQ youth at increased risk for suicide, trafficking

Published: Jun. 10, 2021 at 9:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 11:03 PM CDT
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The month of June is a chance for members of the LGBTQ+ community to show their pride. But, it’s also a chance for family and friends to support those most at risk of suicide and human trafficking.

“We remember a lot of the struggles that the LGBTQ community had to go through to get any sort of acceptance in common culture,” said the Reverend Kevin Gore, director of communications for Northeast Arkansas Pride.

Gore, who is the rector for St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, says that it’s harder for LGBTQ people living in the South to find support.

“Conservative religious ideology, I think, in this particular region of the South, and that tends to be what folks grow up with, it tends to be their paradigm,” Gore said. “They get into a situation where they don’t know there is anything else.”

For those who say being a Christian and supporting LGBTQ+ people don’t mix, Gore has a message: “One interpretation of the gospel is not the only interpretation. Jesus’s whole message has everything to do with grace and love and forgiveness, and reconciliation.”

He said acceptance is especially important for mental health.

Every 45 seconds in the United States, an LGBTQ youth attempts suicide, and they do that because they’re not supported. So, it doesn’t take a lot of support,” said Gore. “One adult in the life of an LGBTQ youth who is supportive reduces that by 40 percent, reduces the risk of suicide.”

Hope Found of Northeast Arkansas says that lack of support is why LGBTQ+ youth are at a higher risk of being trafficked because they are often alienated from their family and even kicked out of their home.

“All of those types of vulnerabilities make them more susceptible to the tricks and lures of a trafficker. Tricks and lures, such as love or protection,” said Megan Brown, executive director for Hope Found of NEA.

Gore says the best way the community can help is just to be kind.

“When you approach another person, maybe you don’t agree with or understand with the way that they are by recognizing their humanity and ask questions,” said Gore. “Be willing to listen to what they have to say, be willing to offer them the same respect you would anyone else.”

For more on resources from NEA Pride, click here.

For more on resources from Hope Found of NEA, click here.

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