FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE ADVOCACY
The Trevor Project supports a number of federal bills that would improve the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ youth by providing funding for suicide prevention and mental health care and by addressing risk factors such as school bullying and homelessness.
Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act
The Safe Schools Improvement Act
The Student Non-Discrimination Act
Mental Health In Schools Act
Mental Health First Aid Act
Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
Every Child Deserves A Family Act
Suicide prevention programs for young people are a life-saving and effective means to address the daunting issue of youth suicide. Passed in 2004, the Garrette Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) was the first youth national suicide prevention bill and granted $83 million over 3 years for youth suicide prevention programs. Congress has continued to show strong support for these programs by continuing this funding. Now, the bill needs to be reauthorized or this funding may disappear.
Reauthorizing the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act will:
- Ensure the Suicide Prevention Resource Center that houses the National Best Practices Registry and the evidence base in suicide prevention is continually funded.
- Increase authorization for state and tribal programs to $32 million annually.
- Increase authorization for higher education programs to $7 million annually.
- Sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski and Senator Jack Reed.
Bullying and harassment in schools can have a huge negative impact on LGBTQ young people’s mental health – which can increase their risk for suicide. The Safe Schools Improvement Act (SSIA) helps make sure that school districts:
- Clearly and inclusively address bullying and harassment
- Encourage prevention strategies and professional training for school staff
- Report data related to bullying and harassment to help create effective prevention programs
- Sponsored by Representative Linda Sanchez in the House and Senators Bob Casey and Mark Kirk in the Senate.
- The Safe Schools Improvement Act has not yet been introduced this session.
While some states prohibit discrimination against students, young people do not have complete nondiscrimination protection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity at the federal level. The Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA) will:
- Create comprehensive federal protections against discrimination in public schools on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity
- Provide meaningful remedies for discrimination
- Prompts schools to be proactive in dealing with discrimination, which may include bullying and harassment
- Sponsored by Representative Jared Polis; Senator Al Franken
- The Student Non-Discrimination Act has not yet been introduced this session.
Healthier and safer students learn and perform better, and a key component of academic success is addressing the mental health of our nation’s children and adolescents. This bill will expand the availability of school-based mental health services by:
- Providing federal funding for therapists and mental health services in schools.
- Emphasizing early intervention and treatment referral to ensure that students get the help they need when they need it.
- Providing for culturally and linguistically competent training so that all students have access to appropriate mental health services.
- Sponsored by Representative Grace Napolitano and Senator Al Franken.
Emergency responders and community members need better tools to be able to respond to mental health crises. This bill will build community capacity for providing crisis intervention with a focus on rural communities, by:
- Providing grant funding for Mental Health First Aid training programs to empower and educate emergency personnel, teachers, students, families, law enforcement officials, faith leaders, human resource personnel, and veterans.
- Training responders to take appropriate action during a mental health crisis, to recognize potential issues before they erupt, and to refer individuals to available mental health services.
- Sponsored by Representative Ron Barber and Senator Mark Begich.
An estimated 40 percent of all homeless youth are LGBTQ-identified, often because they are thrown out of their homes or run away from negative home environments. Nearly 2/3 of these young people will attempt suicide at least once. Reauthorization of this bill should provide for:
- Continued funding for community outreach programs that support youth who are living on the streets.
- Transitional housing for youth under 22 who need temporary assistance and support services.
- Funding for counseling services, including reunification guidance for families to be reconnected.
- Fully inclusive and integrated services for LGBTQ young people.
- The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act is up for reauthorization in 2013, and it has not yet been reintroduced.
Many LGBTQ youth in the foster care system don’t have safe and affirming housing opportunities, and are disproportionately represented compared to straight youth in foster care.
The Every Child Deserves a Family Act (ECDF) would make sure that:
- Discrimination in state laws against potential adoptive and foster parents on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity, or marital status is eliminated.
- More options and permanent homes are open to the millions of children who need them.
- Sponsored by Representative John Lewis and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
- The Every Child Deserves a Family Act has not yet been introduced this session.