The LGBTQ+ acronym serves an important purpose—not only is it designed to be more inclusive, but it also represents the self-identities of people who are not straight or cisgender.
The use of the acronym is intended to be an all-encompassing way to recognize different gender identities and sexual orientations. The addition of other identities to the LGBT acronym also plays an important role in recognizing and connecting them to a larger community.
It also means that these individuals are able to gain greater recognition by society as a whole. Rather than being erased, ignored, or denied, acknowledgment can help foster greater visibility of marginalized identities.
Visibility can also help create a greater sense of self-affirmation of a person's identity. Research has found that offering inclusive and affirmative environments is important for LGBTQ+ youth.
Research also suggests that being visible as LGBTQ+ can be an important way to feel a sense of pride in individual identity.
Affirming self-identity can help people feel greater self-esteem, self-worth, and boost overall mental well-being. This can be particularly important since representation has long been lacking in mainstream media.
The good news is that there have been improvements made in recent years to change this. A recent GLAAD report suggests that the representation of LGBTQ characters and relationships on television is higher than ever previously seen on TV. This includes greater diversity and visibility of non-binary identities, although the report notes that BIPOC characters are still underrepresented.
Research and statistics suggest that LGBTQ+ youth have an increased risk of a range of mental health and social issues, often due to or exacerbated by isolation, marginalization, and discrimination based on their orientation or identity.
Fostering inclusivity and acceptance may be one way to help combat some of these issues.