Background: Adolescents today have unprecedented and uninterrupted access to news and current events through broadcast and social media. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) adolescents may be especially cognizant of media and public discourse pertaining to law and policy changes affecting the legal rights of their communities. The minority stress framework explains how sociopolitical discourse impacts mental health among sexual and gender minority youths.
Objectives: This paper identifies and describes contemporary sociopolitical and legal issues that may impact LGBTQ adolescents’ mental health.
Methods: Authors describe the minority stress framework as applied to gender and sexual identity and explore key sociopolitical and legal topics relevant to LGBTQ adolescents, including employment; medical care bans; health insurance coverage; conversion therapy; religious exemptions in health care; housing rights; and rights in schools and school districts, including participation in sports.
Results: LGBTQ youth experience rejection, prejudice, and discrimination directly through adverse legislative or administrative action and more pervasively through the dominant cultural beliefs and sociopolitical messaging that such developments manifest.
Conclusion: Mental health clinicians who are aware of legal issues and sociopolitical debate pertinent to LGBTQ rights are better prepared to address their significant impact on LGBTQ adolescents’ mental health.
Keywords: LGBTQ, youth, adolescent, gender, sexual orientation, minority stress, discrimination, legal, politics, affirming care, policy, school, trans ban, housing, health insurance coverage, personal belief exemption, conversion therapy, Title IX, Title VII.