By: Savannah Scarborough, Follow South Jersey Intern
SOUTH JERSEY — To acknowledge those in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially during Pride Month, the New Jersey Department of Children and Families announced and highlighted 14 helpful resources available to the state’s youth, ranging from healthcare to housing.
With a long history of supporting LGBTQIA+ youth who face unique challenges, New Jersey holds itself to a high standard when it comes to welcoming all community members into the state. This year, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the safe haven order for those seeking gender-affirming healthcare services. Furthermore, since 2019, New Jersians have been permitted to amend their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity.
New Jersey aims to ensure that, unlike many other states, the LGBTQIA+ community, especially those non-binary and trans, maintain their rights. During such an important month, the Department of Children and Families wishes to offer legal protections for LGBTQIA+ members. Many young people, especially youth of color, face challenges accessing healthcare, housing, and other assistance necessary if access to a dependable support system is not readily available.
The safe haven order protects healthcare professionals, and their patients, from facing negative repercussions when seeking, receiving, or providing gender-affirming services in New Jersey. New Jersey Departments and agencies are no longer allowed to cooperate with interstate investigations which aim to hold someone liable for civil or criminal activities associated with gender affirming care.
According to a CDC study, almost half of LGBQ+* students considered attempting suicide, and nearly three in four had persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness. Furthermore, data from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry shows that youth members of another minority group experienced an even higher risk of suicide. Ensuring stable mental and physical health in the LGBTQIA+ community, especially its youth, is a central goal for New Jersey.
The state’s free resources, including organizations, initiatives, hotlines, and more, offer quality support to LGBTIA+ individuals. The Department of Children and Families has compiled a list of resources to serve as a start for youth seeking help. The list follows below.
Mentoring & Support groups
For advice or guidance from an adult whose journey may be similar to yours, the NJ PRIDE center offers mentorship opportunities. At PRIDE, you will be paired with a trained mentor and work with one another to meet your goals.
Kaleidoscope is for if you need to talk to someone going through a similar situation. Kaleidoscope offers in-person and virtual monthly meetings for youth and young adults throughout New Jersey. The group aims to empower LGBTQIA+ teens (and allies) to lead healthy, productive lives.
HiTOPS is a nonprofit organization that provides inclusive and youth-informed LGBTQ support for young people throughout New Jersey. Health services and group support resources are available for people ages 13 – 26. HiTOPS developed two support groups called First & Third and PFLAG for LGBTQ youth and their loved ones.
The nonprofit Garden State Equality compiled a healthcare directory of doctors and providers who identified themselves as LQBTQIA-friendly. Garden State Equality also provides inclusivity training and resources to schools.
NJCI offers primary care, infectious disease care, and gender-affirmative hormonal treatment, as well as HIV treatment and prevention. They view healthcare holistically and include mental health, substance use treatment, and case management services.
For young people ages 14-24, Project WOW is a safe space to build community, gain leadership skills, and access relevant sexual health, mental health, and substance use services. They offer free rapid HIV testing, one-on-one counseling, safe sex kits, and more.
The new 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is available 24/7 and nationwide. If you are considering suicide or in crisis, call or text 988. Its website features additional resources and information for LGBTQIA+ residents.
This 24/7 helpline serves all NJ youth and young adults in New Jersey. Youth who call are assisted with their daily life challenges by professional staff and trained volunteers. Anonymity and confidentiality are assured except in life-threatening situations. Call or text 1-888-222-2228.
The Trevor Project’s goal is to prevent LGBTQIA+ youth suicides. It offers a 24/7 hotline that you can text at 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386. It also has online support groups.
The PRISM hotline operates 24/7 and provides information and referrals to the LGBTQIA+ community. It can help connect you to services and programs in New Jersey that you may be eligible for. Call 844-657-7476.
The Department of Children and Families said that housing resources are for emergency scenarios or for New Jersey youth who have found themselves in unsafe situations only.
In Mercer County, Mary’s Place is an LGBTQIA+ affirming safe housing program for young people ages 18-21. In addition to the supervised living conditions, staff can help you connect to mental and physical health care, financial education, employment preparation, and more.
Together is a 24-hour emergency shelter for kids ages 9-18 who need a safe place to stay. It is a walk-in shelter, meaning you’ll get help when you enter its doors. In addition to food, clothing, and medical services, staff can connect you with counseling, educational services, and recreational activities. It is LGBTQIA+ affirming.
Located in Essex County, the Reaching Adolescents In Need (RAIN) Foundation is a nonprofit that provides emergency shelter for LGBT individuals, ages 18 to 26, experiencing a crisis leading to homelessness.
For youth between the ages of 18 to 21 facing homelessness, Covenant House provides residential and supportive services. There are also programs for young, first-time mothers.
For additional resources, visit https://www.nj.gov/njyrs/lgbtq/, https://www.performcarenj.org/youth/resources/pride.aspx, or https://www.info.nj.gov/transgender?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery.
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