Online bullying is a very common phenomenon. According to a report by the i-SAFE Foundation, more than a third of young people have experienced cyber threats and another quarter say they’ve been bullied repeatedly via cell phones or over the Internet. And when it comes to LGBT adolescents, those numbers are more than double.
According to the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), LGBT youth were nearly three times as likely as non-LGBT youth to say they had been bullied or harassed and twice as likely to say they had been bullied via text message. As well, one in four LGBT youth said they had been bullied online specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender expression in the past year, and one in five said they had experienced bullying and harassment for these reasons via text message.
The Hetrick Martin Institute (HMI) is one organization trying to change that reality for thousands of LGBT young women in New York City and Newark. Recently, it landed a renewed $60,000 grant from the New York Women’s Foundation for this work.
The project, HMI WOMEN SPEAK, is a youth-led social media initiative designed to address violence against young lesbian women, queer-identified women and transwomen, and to educate other community-based organizations about the violence low-income LGBTQ youth confront.
The project runs parallel to the arts and culture, health and wellness, academic enrichment, and job readiness programs HMI provides for LGBT youth between 12 to 24 years old. HMI also provides counseling services, food and clothing, as well as housing and health services.
Of course, when it comes to young people, if you're not addressing their digital lives, you're not fully connecting with them, so HMI's push here makes a lot of sense.