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World's first social media platform for queer youth relaunched

Recent hate crimes against the LGBT+ community show why mental health and support is important for queer youth

Amsterdam, Thursday, June 29, 2023 - Today Jong&Out relaunches: the world's first social media platform for queer youth in the Netherlands.

The app was previously created by COC Netherlands - the oldest existing LGBT+ advocacy organization in the world - in response to the specific mental health issues that some queer youth struggle with. Through the app, youth up to age 18 can connect and meet others in a safe environment. Hate crimes against the LGBT+ community are still common and the mental impact is significant. A safe place for young people is therefore desperately needed. 

LGBT+ youth are twice as likely to have mental health problems and 4.5 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual and cisgender peers (Kuyper, 2015b). Jong&Out was inspired by statistics showing that the best way to combat these problems is by connecting queer youth with like-minded peers. Since its launch in 2020, four thousand teens have already signed up to the platform, which serves as a crucial mental health resource for one of the world's most vulnerable groups.

Tim, 15 and a member of Jong&Out, says: "I joined Jong&Out because I wanted to feel at home somewhere. I definitely have friends who support me, but still I didn't feel completely understood or accepted. I wanted a place where I could be myself completely and I found that at Jong&Out.''

Need for 'safe space'
Three years ago, during the lockdown, COC launched this unique app. To give even more LGBT+ youth safe access to their community, COC decided to relaunch the app with more focus on offline meeting opportunities. Because of recent hate crimes against the LGBT+ community, the need for a safe place to come together - both online and offline - has never been greater. Whether it's questions about coming-out to family and friends, or advice on gender dysphoria, the platform provides a supportive environment where users are not judged for who they are.

Watch the video here!

Zinzy Nimako, Community Manager, COC Netherlands, says, "Queer youth in the Netherlands, as a result of discrimination and societal pressures, are twice as likely to have mental problems than their heterosexual and cisgender peers and are 4.5 times more likely to attempt suicide. Our goal for this re-launch campaign was simple: get more LGBT+ youth in touch with Jong&Out. Because the more these young people find support in their community, the less likely they are to have problems."

Photographer: Ruby Cruden

Queer influencers share story
The relaunch is supported by some of the most influential queer influencers in the Netherlands, including Thorn, Marthe, Yuani, Tevin, Isabel, Arunya and Ingrid. The influencers share their personal stories on Instagram and TikTok about the place they missed to express their queer identity as teenagers.

Thorn says, "I wish little Thorn had had a place like Jong&Out, purely to see that there are lots of other non-binary people out there, too, that I had no idea about at the time. I could have gotten in touch with them, asked questions - it would have made it all a lot easier."

Volunteers ensure safety
Jong&Out works like many other popular social media apps. Among other things, users can add friends, post messages, like content and join groups on topics that interest them. Like gaming, K-pop or anime. But Young & Out monitors, as the only social media platform for LGBT+ youth in the world, the age of participants. Also, the app is moderated by volunteers. This ensures the safety of users. And because social media platforms for LGBT+ individuals are often geared toward adults, leaving young people vulnerable to grooming, Jong&Out's age is limited to a maximum of 18. In addition to the digital platform, Jong&Out organizes offline events throughout the Netherlands, including 24 monthly meet-ups and three annual camps led by COC adult volunteers.

"The most important aspect of this campaign is that young people know how to find the app. Every new young person who signs up is someone who gets access to a community that can have a positive impact on their mental health." said Stephanie Morrow, of creative agency STUDIO WORROM.