June 9, 2021general
The Trevor Project
Guest blog post by Sam Brinton and Keygan Miller from The Trevor Project
As the world’s largest suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people, The Trevor Project is best known for providing free and confidential support to LGBTQ youth in crisis via our 24/7 phone lifeline, chat, and text services. We do this work because we estimate that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 seriously consider suicide each year in the U.S. — and at least one attempts suicide every 45 seconds.
But Trevor also works to create a world where LGBTQ youth’s well-being is prioritized long before they find themselves in crisis. Every day, our Advocacy & Government Affairs team speaks out in legislatures and communities across the country to advance policies that support LGBTQ youth mental health.
Sometimes this work looks like fighting to end the dangerous and discredited practice of so-called “conversion therapy,” which attempts to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Far from being a relic of history, The Trevor Project hears about this issue regularly from youth reaching out to our crisis services for help, and our research has found that 13 percent of today’s LGBTQ youth report being subjected to the practice; Alarmingly, these youth are more than twice as likely to report a suicide attempt in the last year. Our 50 Bills 50 States campaign has been an important part of protecting youth in twenty states and more than 80 local municipalities all across the U.S., and we’re not done yet!
Sometimes our work looks like encouraging school districts to adopt LGBTQ-inclusive suicide prevention policies, equipping teachers and other school staff to identify youth at risk of self-harm before tragedy happens, and ensuring that life-saving resources are in place when they are needed. Whether or not LGBTQ youth are out at school, inclusive suicide prevention policies signal that their school is a safe place for them to learn, and that school staff are prepared to support them in times of crisis.
In California right now we’re supporting SB 224 (Portantino), which will require mental health instruction for students in grades 1–12. If this bill passes, it will empower students to be able to identify signs and symptoms of challenges within themselves, to feel comfortable talking about mental health, and to feel confident about where to go when they need support. We know that can make all the difference.
Finally, sometimes our work means fighting back against legislation that puts LGBTQ youth’s mental health at risk. This year, dozens of states introduced bills targeting transgender and nonbinary youth that would either ban these young people from participating in school sports or deny them access to life-saving, gender-affirming medical care. Sadly, several of these bills were actually signed into law. No wonder 94 percent of LGBTQ youth reported that recent politics negatively impacted their mental health.
The Trevor Project will continue to do whatever it takes to protect the rights of LGBTQ youth and to make sure they know they are never alone. Visit TheTrevorProject.org to learn more about our work, and text TREVOR to 40649 to join our efforts to save young LGBTQ lives.
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