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Advocacy Updates: Our Continued Fight For Mental Health Reform

With so much going on in the world, from the 2016 election to tragic violence, now is the time to show LGBTQ youth that we are fighting for their well-being and a brighter future for all. We have to become a part of the solution, whether that means taking action in the LGBTQ community, calling local politicians, or having discussions about the issues that matter. Here are some examples of how The Trevor Project has been taking action for LGBTQ youth through our Advocacy department.

Fighting Against Conversion Therapy
Support of “conversion therapy” is being included in a major political party platform, yet it has been denounced by every major medical association in the United States as a dangerous and discredited practice that can put more young lives at risk of suicide. The Trevor Project took action in July by speaking against it in an op-ed for The Advocate. We also wrote a letter to Councilmember M. Lorena González, urging her to pass CB 118746, which has since passed and will now ban conversion therapy in Seattle. The Trevor Project has helped pass similar laws in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, and we will continue the fight to ban this harmful practice across the nation.

Helping Reauthorize the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act
In July, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced and spearheaded by Representative Tim Murphy as a comprehensive mental health reform bill that among other things, reauthorizes many important and effective mental health programs, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. GLSMA provides grants to states, tribes and tribal organizations, and colleges to prevent youth suicide, and also funds a national suicide prevention technical assistance center.

“The reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is one of Trevor’s key legislative priorities. Every 95 minutes a young person takes their life by suicide. We now urge the Senate to take this bill up so needed resources can continue to save young lives,” says Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

New CDC Study Inspires Trevor’s Model School Policy Advocacy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released their 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) study, which displays the first body of knowledge that depicts a nationally representative sample of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students. It is disheartening to note in CDC’s study that in the last year, 43% of LGB students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide, 38.2% made a suicide plan, and roughly 30% attempted suicide.

With the rate of LGB suicide attempts severe enough to require medical attention being almost five times higher than that of straight students, you can take part in improving the lives of 1.3 million high school students who report being LGB:

  • Connect youth to Trevor’s crisis services. We save young lives 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386. TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm Eastern Time and 12-6 pm Pacific Time daily, and youth can text “START” to 678678 Thurs-Friday 4-8 pm Eastern Time and 1-5 pm Pacific Time. Young people can also find friends on our online safe supportive community TrevorSpace.org as well as resources at our Support Center.
  • Create classrooms of peers who are better equipped to help through Lifeguard, Trevor’s free online suicide prevention and crisis intervention education program for middle and high school students.
  • Advocate for the adoption of comprehensive, inclusive suicide prevention policies in school districts around the country with our Model School Policy, which can help school districts draft suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs.

You can learn more in Abbe Land’s op-ed in The Advocate.

To help continue our fight to make change across the nation, please visit our Advocacy page and become a part of taking action for LGBTQ youth on state and federal levels.