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Statement from Abbe Land: “Religious Freedom” Bills Won’t Stop Us From Making Change in Schools

It’s been a week of advocacy victories at The Trevor Project. On April 5, 2016, we helped Council Member David Grosso pass bill 21-361, which will be the first law in the nation to require the development of a school suicide prevention, intervention, and a postvention policy specifically geared towards LGBTQ youth in Washington, D.C. On April 6, 2016, Trevor Board Member Lindsay Chambers and I testified on behalf of young people for Assembly Bill 2246, which if passed, will help California to become the first state in the nation to require their school districts to do the same.

In a time when so-called “religious freedom” bills may have a direct impact on the mental wellness and safety of the LGBTQ community and allies across Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and a list of many more, bill 21-361’s language has the potential to positively influence state laws across the nation. Our researched-based Model School District Policy can help school districts draft similar suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs, and we hope these changes in Washington, D.C. and California inspire such progress nationwide.

At The Trevor Project, it is disheartening to note that we continue to see the highest call volumes coming from the South. Discriminatory laws in Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina not only will increase minority stress, but also may contribute to suicidal ideation. For LGBTQ young people who experience trauma and marginalization, these bills may cause distrust of businesses, religious organizations, and healthcare providers, potentially preventing them from seeking necessary help. Fortunately, we are here 24/7 fighting for those young people who feel this backlash and have nowhere to turn to. Our work today is more important than ever. We need your support to continue protecting LGBTQ youth.

To join us in our advocacy efforts to bring suicide prevention to schools and stop discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ measures like those we’ve seen in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Mississippi, visit our Advocacy page or donate here. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project