You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser to improve your experience and security.

Skip to main

The Importance of Safe Language On Social Media

BY: Trevor News

As a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ+ young people, The Trevor Project regularly sees unsafe language that many use on social media without consideration for others’ mental health. Whether targeting our organization, the LGBTQ+ young people we serve, or the judges, government officials, advocates, and supporters who work with us, there is an urgent need for social media platforms and their users to take action to protect the safety of our community.

The Trevor Project is strongly aware of the negative impact that language can have on mental health; unsafe language and harassment is often directed at the LGBTQ+ youth we serve. In addition to our ongoing commitment to foster safe spaces for all, we are also going to use this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to share some resources about internet safety.

Online “trolling” can take a wide variety of forms. It can range from distracting and annoying comments to doxxing and extreme harassment, including assault and death threats. It’s important to discern between valid, if unkindly worded, criticism, and hate speech. Those perpetuating abuse want to attract attention and build a following, rather than engage in a nuanced conversation. Many topics can be freely and easily researched with a quick Google search for those genuinely seeking information.

Remember, you are never required to answer anyone’s comments, especially if the constant management of those comments is going to take a toll on your mental health. Put your safety first, and disengage from conversations and harassment. Utilize the features on Facebook, X, and Instagram to report hate speech and to block users or set your accounts to private if need be. Seek out supportive communities online, such as our safe, moderated community TrevorSpace

Content about LGBTQ+ or other marginalized identities is more likely to attract trolling. Refer to our guide, Protect Your Space and Well-Being on Instagram or our Online Safety Guide with our partner, Gen. You can also reference A Practical Guide to Dealing With Hate on Social Media from the Center for Countering Digital Hate for more ways to handle abuse. 

It is our hope that these resources can help our community build healthier discourse for LGBTQ+ youth and to navigate tough discussions about suicide and violence.

  • Safe Messaging
    Safe messaging is a broad term that applies to any kind of online or offline communication that takes into account the mental and emotional well-being of those participating in the conversation. The Action Alliance describes “safe messaging” as a component of the Framework for Successful Messaging that focuses on avoiding potentially harmful messaging content. At The Trevor Project, we use the phrase safe messaging to refer to any kind of public messaging that is compassionate, factually-sound, and inclusive. 
  • Nonviolent Communication:
    This book by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg is a great resource for creating healthier communication. The Center for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) is a global organization that supports the learning and sharing of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and helps people peacefully and effectively resolve conflicts in personal, organizational, and political settings.
  • Protect Your Space and Well-Being on Instagram
    The Trevor Project partnered with Instagram to create its youth safety guide, which outlines Instagram features that allow users to look out for each other, mute and block negativity, and seek out supportive communities.
  • Black and LGBTQ: Approaching Intersectional Conversations
    As the national conversation around racial justice and equality for Black people grows in volume and scope, many Black LGBTQ+ young people are facing difficult conversations with people who are uninformed about race, queer identities, or the intersection of both. Read our guide on what to do before, during, and after a difficult conversation to make sure the dialogue — and your mental health — stays safe.
  • #chatsafe: A Young Person’s Guide for Communicating Safely Online About Suicide
    Following the impact of the #chatsafe guidelines in Australia, Orygen collaborated with the Jed Foundation and the Stanford Psychiatry Center for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing to adapt the guidelines for a U.S. audience.

We hope these resources will help people communicate in healthier ways on the internet, so that we can all build a safer world online and offline for LGBTQ+ young people. If you or anyone you know is in crisis, we are here to support you 24/7 at

Read more from


Approaching Conversations on the Intersection of Race and LGBTQ Identity

By: Kendra Gaunt (she/they), Data + AI Product Owner, The Trevor Project As communities around the world join together in the movement to address systemic racism, white supremacy, and end the unjust killings of Black people in the United States of America, The Trevor Project hears from LGBTQ youth who experience a range of intense emotions and feelings. LGBTQ young people, including those who feel heartfelt solidarity at protests or sadness from seeing how racism and police brutality impacts Black people, are starting conversations about race and their LGBTQ identities all over the country. Many Black LGBTQ young people have…

Black History in the Making: Trevor Staff Reflect on a Life-Changing Year

2020 was a historic year, but we can’t wait for the history books to process what it meant for those who lived it. While everyone felt the consequences of COVID-19 in some way, Black Americans on average felt it disproportionately — plus, they experienced the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement (and the daily realities of discrimination that led to it in the first place) on the world stage. This Black History Month, 10 of The Trevor Project’s Black employees from all over the organization share their oral history of the year that changed everything — particularly, how it…

Looking for another kind of support?

Explore answers and information across a variety of topics, or connect to one of our trained counselors to receive immediate support.

Meet new LGBTQ friends in TrevorSpace

Join an international community for LGBTQ+ young people ages 13-24. 
Sign up and start a conversation now.

Check It Out

Get answers for everything LGBTQ

Is there something you want to learn more about? Find topics you’re interested in here.

Get Answers