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HHS Proposed Rule Offers Much-Needed Protections for LGBTQ+ Young People in Foster Care

BY: Trevor News
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LGBTQ+ young people who reported having been in foster care had three times greater odds of a past-year suicide attempt compared to those who had not

September 27, 2023 — The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people released the following statement in response to the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ new proposed rule that would protect LGBTQ+ young people in foster care by requiring agencies to ensure LGBTQ+ young people are placed in affirming and supportive homes.

Statement from Kasey Suffredini (he/him), Interim Senior Vice President of Prevention at The Trevor Project:

All young people in foster care, including those who happen to be LGBTQ, deserve affirming, supportive environments to call home. We are grateful to see this proposed rule that would strengthen our foster care systems, bolstering safety and inclusivity for all our nation’s young people. The Trevor Project’s research found that LGBTQ+ young people in foster care reported significantly higher odds of attempting suicide compared to their peers. Our data also show that LGBTQ+ youth in foster care were more likely to be subjected to conversion therapy – a dangerous and discredited practice that attempts to forcibly change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity. The proposed rule specifically carves out protections against this abusive practice and, instead, calls on foster families to provide support and respect to LGBTQ+ young people, through access to mental health and medical care, honoring who young people know they are, and using names and pronouns that match who they are. Especially at a time when we continue to see so many lawmakers pushing politicized policies that harm these youth, it gives us hope to see an informed, data-driven effort to protect and support the health and well-being of LGBTQ+ young people.” 

Relevant Data:

  • The Trevor Project’s 2023 U.S. National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ+ Young People found that 41% of LGBTQ+ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year — and young people who are transgender, nonbinary, and/or people of color reported higher rates than their peers.
  • LGBTQ+ youth who reported having been in foster care had three times greater odds of reporting a past-year suicide attempt compared to those who had not.
  • LGBTQ+ young people who had ever been in foster care reported higher rates of past conversion therapy threats (18.3%) and conversion therapy experiences (12.1%) compared to their peers who had never been in foster care (9.1% and 4.4%, respectively).
  • A 2020 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project’s researchers, published in the American Journal of Public Health, found that youth who reported undergoing conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report having attempted suicide and more than 2.5 times as likely to report multiple suicide attempts in the past year.
  • Research has consistently found that LGBTQ+ young people who had access to affirming homes, schools, community events, and online spaces reported lower rates of attempting suicide compared to those who did not.
  • Transgender and nonbinary youth who reported having pronouns respected by all or most people in their lives attempted suicide at half the rate of those who did not have their pronouns respected.

If you or someone you know needs help or support, The Trevor Project’s trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat at TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678678. 

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