“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced”- James Baldwin
At Thorn, we seek to shine a light in the darkest corners of the internet. We face atrocities every day in an effort to build a world where every child can be safe from sexual abuse online.
As we celebrate Pride Month, we also solemnly acknowledge the difficult truth that LGTBQ* youth are disproportionately represented as victims of child sex trafficking and in instances of self-generated explicit content.
As Polaris points out, “LGBTQ youth face higher rates of discrimination, violence, and economic instability than their non-LGBTQ peers.” Family rejection, lack of support systems, and financial challenges each offer heightened opportunities for traffickers to step in and exploit LGBTQ* youth. Traffickers can target these vulnerabilities to fill the role as a trusted adult, as well as offer perceived economic incentives that LGBTQ* youth may feel they won’t be offered elsewhere. According to Polaris, LGBTQ* youth are 3-7 times more likely to engage in survival sex than their peers.
According to our research, LGBTQ* youth are also twice as likely to share self-generated explicit images online, and 1 in 3 say they have seen non-consensually shared content of minors. 42% of LGBTQ* youth say they have had an online sexual encounter — more than any other group identified in our research.
We can’t end this epidemic until we face these realities, understand them, and collectively address them. In this fight, knowledge is power, and we must acknowledge the communities most vulnerable to this abuse if we are to end it.
This Pride Month we honor the LGBTQ* community — the kids we serve, those who support them, our friends, our partners, and our colleagues. And we acknowledge that our goal to eliminate child sexual abuse from the internet will only be met when we can say that every child is being defended.
If you are in need of support, please visit the following resources: