Online Safety for the LGBTQ Community

Lesbian couple looking on their laptop
Image by Freepik

June was first declared “Gay and Lesbian Pride Month” in 1999 by then-President Bill Clinton. The origins of Pride Month go back to the 1969 Stonewall riots, followed by the first Pride Marches on June 27, 1970, in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco.

Progress towards LGBTQ equality and inclusion has evolved over the last 50 years, but inherent vulnerabilities of marginalized groups continue to exist, especially online. According to a 2013 study by the Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), “LGBT youth experience nearly three times as much bullying and harassment online as non-LGBT youth.” Refer to Queer Youth Exploring Their Identity, One Webpage at a Time, and Online Communities and LGBTQ+ Youth for more information on the importance of online safety for LGBTQ youth.

While the internet can be a hostile place for the LGBTQ community, it is also a lifeline in many ways. The GLSEN provides the following statistics:

  • 81% of LGBTQ youth have searched for health information online, as compared to 46% of non-LGBTQ youth.
  • 62% of LGBTQ youth have used the internet to connect with other members of the community in the last year.
  • More than 1 in 10 said they had first disclosed their LGBTQ identity to someone online.
  • 1 in 4 youth said they are more out online than in person.

As experts in Cybersecurity and strong LGBTQ allies, ITS Information Assurance wants to ensure those at risk of online harassment and crime have the information they need to protect themselves. Follow this advice to maintain online safety:

  • Be cautious and do your due diligence before engaging with individuals online.
  • Appropriately guard your personal information, even on dating apps.
  • Understand the privacy settings on your devices and within the applications you use and adjust them accordingly.
  • Manage your passwords and turn on two-factor authentication for weblogin.

Refer to What LGBTQ Communities Should Know About Online Safety from The National Cybersecurity Alliance in collaboration with LGBT Tech for more tips and resources for protecting yourself on the internet. Cybersecurity is everyone’s responsibility. The more you know, the more power you have to be safe online.