By Mary T. Guerrant, MS (Doctoral Student at North Carolina State University)
On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder, and since 2005 the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) has commemorated that day. It is a global occasion for individuals, groups, and organizations to take action on topics related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals and to advocate for more accepting public policies. Each year a global focus for IDAHOT is chosen and this year’s is LGBT youth.
How can you get involved to raise awareness and support for LGBT youth? Here are five quick ways:
Inform yourself. Check out the official website for IDAHOT, where you can learn about what different groups worldwide are doing to raise support and awareness for LGBT youth and you can also follow IDAHOT on Twitter(@May17IDAHOT) and Facebook.
Take social media by storm. Join the IDAHOT Thunderclap campaign. Thunderclap is a service that you give permission to post a preset message on your social media pages on May 17 in honor of IDAHOT. When multiple people post on Facebook and Twitter at the same time, it creates a bigger buzz.
Be an advocate for LGBT youth. You can do this on your campus and in your community. Work with LGBT groups on your campus and in your community to help generate interest in IDAHOT and raise awareness of the unique challenges and experiences faced by LGBT students. Although there are plenty of resources out there, here are a few to get you started…
Support fellow LGBT graduate students. Tell your peers what is out there and specifically for them. The APAGS Committee on Sexual Orientation and Gender Diversity has long been advocating on behalf of this community. It currently offers a set of free training webisodes on special topics (e.g., coming out to your clients), a climate guide (PDF) and a survival/resource guide, an academic-year mentoring program, two grants (one for training and the other for dissertation research), the APAGSLGBT listserv, and much more.
Support other youth around the world. Consider donating to the IDAHOT movement and help fund one of several activities worldwide planned, including public marches and demonstrations, publications in national newspapers, festivals, education and public awareness raising, flash mobs, and the support of LGBT rights organizations internationally.
Last year’s IDAHOT at CQ University in Sydney, Australia brings the message, “Being straight is no excuse for homophobia.” (Source: Acon Online for Flickr. Some rights reserved.)
APA wants every day to be an IDAHOT day. For more information about how we support LGBT communities and a list of resources for becoming engaged in action, check this page out. Remember, every action counts in the fight for LGBT youth around the world!