LGBTQ Student Debt

The difficulties we face as LGBTQ people start early in life. As young people, we might be met with discrimination and bias from our friends, family, faculty at school, and institutions of faith. These challenges can mean higher rates of absenteeism and diminished educational outcomes that can play out across a lifetime. We face these difficulties and higher rates of homelessness if we have unsupportive guardians or unemployment when met with unsupportive employers. All of these factors mean that far too many LGBTQ young people who hope to pursue higher education are starting off with compounding disadvantages including taking on a disproportionate amount of debt.

A 2021 study by William’s Institute and the Point Foundation showed that “more than a third (35.4%) of LGBTQ adults ages 18 to 40, an estimated 2.9 million adults, are holding more than $93.2 billion in federal student loans.” The same study demonstrated that LGBTQ adults are 37% more likely to have federal student debt than non-LGBTQ adults, and transgender adults are 61% more likely to hold this debt than cisgender LGBQ adults. For these reasons and more Biden’s debt relief plan is an LGBTQ equity issue.

To support our youth and generations to come, LGBTQ inclusive curriculum, public policy, and even pop culture have huge roles to play in ending systemic, societal, and structural barriers in education and improving lived outcomes. You also have a role to play. Whether that’s being a supportive guardian or education, connecting LGBTQ youth to supportive programming, or donating to programs that support our youth

Personally, each year I work to raise funds for The Tracie Jada O’Brien Transgender Student Scholarship Fund, one of the first scholarship funds to focus on trans students. 

However we chose to embrace the much-needed equity work for our LGBTQ community, we must remain focused and clear-eyed. Equity requires investment, whether public or personal. We can be grateful for the equity work being done and still know there is much further to go. Today, I am grateful to know that so many LGBTQ people are being supported, and it gives me hope that together we can continue working towards progress and Justice with Joy.

With Pride,

Fernando Z. López
Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Executive Director
San Diego Pride


About San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride raises funds primarily through festival ticket and beverage sales, and through sponsorships, and exhibitor fees. These funds support San Diego Pride’s community philanthropy which has distributed more than $2.5 million in advancement of its mission to foster pride, equality, and respect for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities locally, nationally, and globally.