Metro Weekly

Joe Biden launches “As You Are” initiative to promote LGBTQ acceptance in families

Vice President wants to help at-risk LGBTQ youth promote stories of inclusion and acceptance

Vice President Joe Biden, Credit: Kenton / Flickr

Former Vice President Joe Biden has launched a new campaign designed to promote acceptance of LGBTQ youth by their families.

Spearheaded by the Biden Foundation, “As You Are” will collect personal stories from LGBTQ youth, parents, siblings, educators and others to help educate the public about the importance of affirming and accepting young LGBTQ people.

“I’m so proud to announce the Biden Foundation has launched this campaign,” Biden said in a statement. “We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection — and lift up research, best practices, and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance.”

Research and surveys have continually shown that LGBTQ youth remain one of the most at-risk groups in America, and are disproportionately affected by homelessness, depression, and suicidal ideation.

A first-of-its-kind national survey recently found high levels of stress, depression and fear due to daily challenges among LGBTQ-identifying youth.

The Human Rights Campaign’s 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey highlighted a number of problem areas for LGBTQ youth, including at home, where two-thirds have heard a family member make anti-LGBTQ comments, and in school, where only a quarter of youth feeling safe.

D.C.’s annual Youth Risk Behavior Survey recently found that as many as one-third of LGB middle and high school students have attempted suicide — a figure that rises to 45% for trans youth.

Biden’s “As You Are” initiative plans to combat the harms that youth face when they are rejected — such as homelessness or being forced to endure conversion therapy — and share positive narratives “with the hope 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 a press release.

Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, said that family acceptance can “save lives.”

“Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide,” Paley said in a statement. “And 40% of transgender and gender nonconforming adults report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, most of them before the age of 25. That’s why it is so important to support LGBTQ youth and let them know that they are not alone.”

“No matter who you are, where you live, or how you pray, surely we can all agree that we ought to live in a society where all our young people are supported and affirmed,” Judy Shepard, Co-Founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said in a statement. “It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds.”

“As You Are” launched with a video featuring Biden, Cyndi Lauper, former NFL player Wade Davis, and a number of LGBTQ leaders and activists. Watch it below:

Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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