By Malena Mendez, President and CEO, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County
There are approximately 50,000 young people who identify as LGBTQ+ in Broward County. Sadly, they are often rejected, scorned, ridiculed and cast aside. Many struggle with their identity, creating feelings of isolation, confusion, and a lack of belonging. According to a 2022 national survey by The Trevor Project:
- 45% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year;
- 14% of LGBTQ committed suicide, including nearly 1 in 5 transgender and nonbinary youth;
- 73% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of anxiety;
- 36% of LGBTQ youth reported they have been physically threatened or harmed due to their sexual orientation or gender identity;
At Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County, we’re turning around these troubling statistics. We’re dedicated to igniting the power and promise of youth through creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships for all young people – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation.
While we’ve always served all youth, we intentionally meet the needs of LGBTQ+ youth through our BIGPride mentoring program. We see firsthand how fostering strong, empowering relationships between mentees and mentors make LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and accepted.
Mentors of LGBTQ+ youth serve an important protective role in helping youth confront challenges; offering support as they navigate exploring, accepting and sharing their identity with others; and providing emotional, informational, and interpersonal support in ways that protect them from risks associated with stigma and victimization.
We applaud all of our Bigs, especially those who volunteer in our BigPride program. We are proud to encourage inclusiveness, dignity, and mutual respect for everyone. Our hope is that our South Florida community will stand with us as we serve the needs of all youth, including our LGBTQ+ kids. Be a part of creating a BIGGER future.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward County is dedicated to creating and supporting one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. Its larger vision is for all youth achieve their full potential. To become a Big or for more information, call (954) 584-9990 or visit www.bbbsbroward.org.
Author bio: Malena Mendez-Dorn graduated from BC with her A.A. in Social Work. She is currently President and CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward. Big Brothers Big Sisters of Broward is a nonprofit organization that focuses on creating one-to-one relationships for children in need of a big brother or big sister to mentor them. These big brothers and big sisters will inspire and encourage them to live a successful life and help them find their full potential