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Indybay Feature

LGBTQ+ Issues in Sonoma County

by Dana Hollander
This takes a brief look at the issues that plague the LGBTQ+ community, both throughout history and today.
Throughout this semester, I along with a group of my peers at Sonoma State University have been researching LGBTQ+ mental health and suicide risk. We have had the incredible opportunity to speak to members of the community as well as those who hold positions at organizations that assist in getting LGBTQ+ individuals the help that they need. Among these interviews one recurring theme is that they need more help. Whether that is more mental health professionals, more medical doctors, or more resources. While there are places for LGBTQ+ individuals to go if they need help, one of our interviewees noted that demand has only increased as their amount of staff and resources has not changed. She also believes that there should be more training on how to spot signs of mental illness or suicide ideation in the hopes that it will help people feel prepared to reach out to LGBTQ+ individuals who are displaying said signs.

Depression and anxiety are the most common mental health issues among LGBTQ+ individuals and these have only increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. LGBTQ+ youth have been forced to quarantine with their families, some of whom may not be supportive of their identities. They need a safe place to go where they can feel accepted. Another interviewee who works with LGBTQ+ elders believes that older generations should connect with younger members of the community to show them that there is more to life than the struggles they will face as high schoolers or early college students. All this to say, Sonoma County is lacking in the necessary resources to help LGBTQ+ youth feel safe and comfortable. Policies should be put in place to ensure their safety.
Related Categories: North Bay / Marin | LGBTI / Queer
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