LGBTQ students in Hampton Roads look for community support during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 4:45 PM, Oct 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-10 23:30:12-04

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. - As young people continue to adjust to the pandemic, some in the LGBTQ community are dealing with increased anxiety and stress.

"There is a high suicide rate among LGBTQ students because of isolation and loneliness," said Teri Minami, a Suffolk Public School's teacher.

Minami says often times LGBTQ students only get the support they need inside school walls, which isn't the case this year.

"This pandemic has really isolated them and added another layer, as they cannot connect face to face with people that support them or their peers," said Minami.

Many Hampton Roads schools have what are called GSA's - gay, straight, or gender sexual alliances run by students uniting youth to the community and giving them a safe space.

"It is the only place a lot of kids get any support and someone telling them they are not crazy, not alone, and they will get through this," said Coral Kendall.

19-year-old Kendall started the GSA at her high school, Lake Taylor in Norfolk, to provide visibility and inclusion; a saving grace for so many.

"You could see these small pockets of kids that didn't connect with each other, but isolated on there own," said Kendall.

With school now virtual, today PFLAG, the largest parent and ally organization for this community, held a GSA summit to try to address how students can still get the support they need while outside of the classroom.

Many speaking said another hurdle is that they have parents not support of them while in quarantine, making GSA groups even more vital.

"So many students that are in my GSA may not be out, may not have that connection, and so where do they go what do they do," said Minami.

For more information on GSA's click here.