Home Internet The internet can be a lifeline for LGBTQ+ teens | PennLive letters

The internet can be a lifeline for LGBTQ+ teens | PennLive letters

Gen Z is the first generation of digital natives. They’ve never known a world without knowledge and opportunities at their fingertips. And while naysayers will insist that this technology has been to the detriment of children and teens, there is more nuance to the issue.

In the United States, 1 in 4 teenagers identifies as LGBTQ+. Despite this massive number, too many LGBTQ+ children and teens report they don’t have the support or resources they need to thrive. More than half of LGBTQ+ youth report they suffer from depression. For these children and teens, the internet can be a lifeline, enabling them to connect with peers, build relationships and seek resources free from judgment or stigma.

Similarly, for children and teens living in underserved communities, or facing barriers to education, the internet can be equally valuable, helping them take control of their academic future. Students without access to the internet are highly likely to fall behind.

As an educator raised in Central Pennsylvania who’s worked in public and independent schools in Pittsburgh, Maryland, Washington D.C., and Virginia, I learned first-hand the challenges students face growing up in a digital world. They need to have safe spaces where they are free to be themselves.

Without proper precautions and safeguards, however, these networks can pose risks to young users. Luckily representatives in Harrisburg are advancing legislation that would mandate online platforms while ensuring access for those who rely on the internet most.

Richard House, Harrisburg, Pa.



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