Los Angeles, CA – Today, Sec. Arne Duncan of the U.S. Department of Education reaffirmed the government’s support of allowing Gay-Straight Alliances (GSA) to form in every school across the country under the Equal Access Act. The announcement was made at the Federal LGBT Youth Summit, and is the second broad-based federal announcement promoting the well-being of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. Yesterday’s announcement came from the Centers for Disease Control. The Trevor Project, which works to prevent suicide among LGBTQ youth, affirms that the availability of a GSA at a school can greatly improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth in crisis, and the CDC data supports this need.
“Today’s announcement from Sec. Duncan is a welcome step in supporting the psychological well-being of LGBTQ youth. Even though the formation of Gay-Straight Alliances has been protected under the Federal Equal Access Act since 1984, youth in many communities across the country have been barred by their school districts from forming these supportive safe spaces,” said David McFarland, Interim Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project. “Today Secretary Duncan has taken a stand to ensure that youth in public schools no longer have to go to court to start a GSA in their school, a step which can help improve outcomes for LGBTQ youth in crisis.”
Yesterday, the CDC released analysis of the Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) that lesbian, gay and bisexual youth in high school are at a greater risk to attempt suicide than their straight peers. The Trevor Project’s Lifeline, which has operated nationally since 1998 providing crisis and suicide intervention to LGBTQ youth, has years of data that reflect the CDC findings.
McFarland stated, “To youth-serving organizations like The Trevor Project that have worked for years to address the health needs of LGBTQ youth, the CDC results are not surprising. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning young people face prejudice, fear and hate, each of which harmfully affects the psychological well-being of these youth and increases the likelihood of a suicide attempt. The CDC report highlights the immediate need to address the environments that fuel the disproportionately high risk for suicide, and the Department of Education’s support of GSAs across the U.S. is a healthy step in the right direction.”
McFarland continued, “For the first time, the challenges faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are no longer invisible to policy and lawmakers on the national, state and local levels. As a broad population study, the CDC report validates the argument for stronger protections for sexual minority youth, and makes clear that suicide prevention must be an imperative of our federally elected officials.”
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential lifeline, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources and advocacy. For more information, visit TheTrevorProject.org.
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