LGBTQ+ youth experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic as observed through gender-sexuality alliances


  • Angela Baerwolf University of Wisconsin-Green Bay



LGBTQ+ youth, COVID-19, resilience, minority stress, gender-sexuality alliance


Many of the factors that put LGBTQ+ youth at risk for poor mental health outcomes before the COVID-19 pandemic were exacerbated by the period of home confinement during the pandemic. The following exploratory study investigated the experiences of LGBTQ+ youth during the pandemic as perceived by Gender-Sexuality Alliance (GSA) advisors. In October-November 2021, recruitment began for a qualitative survey shared via a closed Facebook group for GSA advisors in a Midwestern state, in addition to an email sent by a nonprofit supporting GSAs in that state. Advisors were asked to complete the survey in reference to their experience facilitating these school clubs from March 2020-March 2021, a period during the pandemic that saw the highest number of restrictions around home confinement along with schools moving to a virtual format. Findings included themes reflecting impacts of the level of caregiver acceptance on access to support, youth engaging in support-seeking behaviors, and enhancements and challenges of virtual meetings. Implications for social work intervention are shared, focusing on supporting caregivers on a path toward acceptance of their child and advocating for policies that transform the culture and the conversation from whether LGBTQ+ youth can exist as themselves in some spaces, to fully embracing their identity as valued members of society.