In this episode, host Travis Nipper welcomes Suzanna Davis of Grant Us Hope and Dr. Andy Buechel of Lighthouse Youth Services to discuss the focus on the unique needs of LGBTQ youth. Dr. Buechel shares details about how the five key areas that the Safe and Supported Program provides support for LGBTQ youth in various critical ways. Suzanna speaks to layers of support and the complimentary effect that Lighthouse and Hope Squads provide to the community.

Listen to Episode 12

Dr. Buechel introduces himself as the LGBTQ Program Coordinator with Lighthouse Youth and Family Service’s Safe and Supported program, and how they are dedicated to mitigating and preventing LGBTQ youth homelessness (1:50)

He then dives into how research suggests that there is a large overrepresentation of LGBTQ youth in the grouping of at-risk young people. He adds how their emotional struggles are compounded with struggles such as homelessness (2:40)

Additionally, Dr. Buechel adds that the suicide attempts of LGBTQ youths are found to have been greater intention to be completed according to research (3:55)

He then speaks on how the homelessness associated with their struggles has come greatly from family rejection whether it be running or away or being kicked out. He adds that death by suicide is 8x as likely in cases such as these (4:58)

Our GUH team member, Suzanna Davis, jumps in to say how impactful Hope Squads can be in addressing these issues because they are move adept at creating safe and accepting areas for young people struggling with their sexuality (5:56)

Dr. Buechel then talks about his work with Safe and Supported. He discusses their 5 key program areas of operation. This includes their housing program with volunteer host families and the providing of safe environments for the young people affected. Additionally, they offer a program to educate and open up discussion with the parents as well as a cultural competency program that equips those working with young people to know how best to respond to youth within this population (6:50)

He continues by adding that the cultural competency training is available to the general public (9:00)

Suzanna then asks how the school experience impacts the mental health and propensity for suicide of young LGBTQ students. Dr. Buechel responds with the data that has come out recently regarding the safety of school environments for LGBTQ students and how despite gradual improvement, he still emphasizes great cause for concern because in many cases they do not have a home life that makes them feel safe to offset this (9:42)

Dr. Buechel then discusses how many findings about the rejection of LGBTQ youth by their families have been somewhat reassuring because in some cases parents believe they are doing what’s best for their child. He provides a hypothetical to support this and stresses the positive benefit that support from just one adult can have (12:20)

Suzanna adds that she feels reassured to hear some of this because many of these helpful behaviors overlap with what is ingrained in Hope Squads. The two agree on the impactfulness of supportive peers in mitigating the risk associated with struggling LGBTQ youth (15:14)

Dr. Buechel talks about The Trevor Project and their significant impact on ending LGBTQ youth suicide. He highlights their 24/7 offering of support via text or call for young people to have a trained professional to talk to (16:28)

Travis now gives Dr. Buechel a mic drop opportunity. He reiterates that it does not take a whole lot to reduce the risk that these young people face. Small, human interactions like checking in on how they are doing can have monumental impact on their mental health (17:21)

Suzanna uses her mic drop to talk about how this is yet another example of how empowering student voice through Hope Squads is changing our school culture and how supporting all students is saving lives (19:09)


Dr. Andy BuechelLighthouse Youth Services Safe Supported Program

Dr. Buechel’s Email

Suzanna Davis, Director of Programming – Grant Us Hope

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