The Biden Foundation on Tuesday announced the launch of “As You Are,” a campaign to raise awareness of the importance of family acceptance in the lives of LGBTQ young people.
“We’ll use our resources to highlight the harms of family rejection — and lift up research, best practices and personal stories to powerfully show the significant value of family acceptance,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in a statement provided to NBC News.
The campaign is collecting personal stories from LGBTQ youth, parents, siblings, educators, social service providers and others to help educate the public about the importance of accepting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer youth.
The project’s goal, according to a statement announcing the launch of the campaign, is “to inspire, to create communities, to heal families, and to change the broader culture to ensure a bright future for all LGBTQ young people.”
Several members of the Biden Foundation’s LGBTQ Advisory Council, which is comprised of high-profile LGBTQ advocates, applauded the new campaign.
“No matter who you are, where you live, or how you pray, surely we can all agree that we ought to live in a society where all our young people are supported and affirmed,” Judy Shepard, co-founder of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, said in a statement shared with NBC News. “It’s not enough to change laws and policies. We have to change hearts and minds.”
Amit Paley, CEO and executive director of The Trevor Project, a nonprofit that helps LGBTQ youth in crisis, stressed that “family acceptance can save lives.
“Gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to attempt suicide. And 40% of transgender and gender nonconforming adults report having attempted suicide at some point in their lives, most of them before the age of 25,” he said in a statement. “That’s why it is so important to support LGBTQ youth and let them know that they are not alone.”
A recent study out of the University of Chicago also found LGBTQ youth are more than twice as likely as their straight peers to experience homelessness. The most cited reason for this disproportionate rate of youth homelessness, according to the study, is familial rejection due to the young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
Biden became an outspoken LGBTQ ally in 2012, when he publicly declared — ahead of then President Barack Obama — his support for same-sex marriage during an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I am absolutely comfortable with the fact that men marrying men, women marrying women, and heterosexual men and women marrying one another are entitled to the same exact rights, all the civil rights, all the civil liberties,” Biden said, while noting the president, not he, “sets the policy” on such matters.
Obama followed suit and declared his support for gay marriage just three days later in an interview with ABC News’ Robin Roberts.