Be a change-maker this Pride Month

Ryan Pasternak, MD
Be a change-maker this Pride Month

Did you know that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely than their peers to experience negative health and life outcomes? They are at an increased risk for depression, suicide, bullying, substance use, sexual health risks, and homelessness. LGBTQ+ youth of color experience even greater challenges. They may encounter discrimination and prejudice based on both their race and ethnicity, as well as their sexual and gender identity.

According to The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health in 2021:

  • 75% of LGBTQ+ youth reported that they had experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime.
  • Half of all LGBTQ+ youth of color reported discrimination based on their race/ethnicity in the past year, including 67% of Black LGBTQ youth and 60% of Asian/Pacific Islander LGBTQ youth.
  • 12% of white youth attempted suicide compared to 31% of Native/Indigenous youth, 21% of Black youth, 21% of multiracial youth, 18% of Latinx youth, and 12% of Asian/Pacific Islander youth.
  • 70% of LGBTQ+ youth stated that their mental health was "poor" most of the time or always during COVID-19.
  • 30% of LGBTQ+ youth experienced food insecurity in the past month, including 50% of all Native/Indigenous LGBTQ+ youth.
  • 48% of LGBTQ+ youth reported they wanted counseling from a mental health professional, but were unable to receive it in the past year.
  • LGBTQ+ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide.

To be an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, and especially young people, here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Confront personal biases - Everyone has biases, but it is our personal responsibility to address and actively confront them.
  2. Create a safe space - Implement a zero-tolerance policy for insensitivity.
  3. Don’t make assumptions. Pronouns matter - Don’t assume to know a young person’s pronouns-, just ask! Similarly, ask what name they prefer to use. This will go a long way toward demonstrating respect and building trust. If you use the wrong pronouns or name, apologize, commit to doing better, and move on.

While there continue to be many barriers facing LGTBQ+ people in the United States and around the world, we can be change-makers with a few simple actions.

Adolescent Medicine

The Adolescent Medicine Team at Children’s Hospital serves adolescents and young adults ages 10-25. Below is a list of services:

  • Male and female reproductive health visits
  • Evaluation and treatment of menstrual disorders
  • Contraception, pregnancy prevention, and options counseling
  • Sexually transmitted infection testing, treatment, and prevention counseling
  • Gender Health
    • Multidisciplinary care consisting of adolescent medicine, endocrine, psychology, and plastic surgery
  • Outpatient medical management of eating disorders
  • Outpatient medical management of mild to moderate anxiety or depression
  • Sports, school, camp, and work physicals

Ryan Pasternak, MD
Pediatrician, Adolescent Medicine Specialist

Dr. Ryan Pasternak specializes in Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital. He received his medical degree from Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, Virginia and completed his residency training at LSU Health New Orleans. He then completed a fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland. With more than 15 years of experience, Dr. Pasternak is board-certified in Adolescent Medicine and Pediatrics. He also serves as an Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, Division Head of General Ambulatory Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, and the Nick Gagliano Professor of Ambulatory Pediatrics at LSU Health New Orleans. When asked why he chose to specialize in Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Pasternak said, “It is invigorating to work with adolescent patients/families and assist them in maximizing their health trajectories. The practice of Adolescent Medicine as a specialty allows me to focus on critical areas of health for young persons: reproductive and sexual health, gender affirming care, sports health, infectious disease and behavioral health care.” Dr. Pasternak’s primary clinic location is Children’s Hospital’s Kids First TigerCARE Clinic in the Adolescent Clinic. He also sees patients at Children’s Hospital’s Main Campus, Children’s Hospital’s Behavioral Health Center and at LSU Health New Orleans School Based Health Centers.