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New Poll Emphasizes Negative Impacts of Anti-LGBTQ Policies on LGBTQ Youth

BY: Trevor News
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  • 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates around anti-trans bills have negatively impacted their mental health; as a result of these policies and debates in the last year, 45% of trans youth experienced cyberbullying, and nearly 1 in 3 reported not feeling safe to go to the doctor or hospital when they were sick or injured.
  • 75% of LGBTQ youth say that both anti-LGBTQ hate crimes and threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces often give them stress or anxiety.
  • At least 70% of LGBTQ youth say issues like efforts to restrict abortion access, gun violence, police brutality, and not having enough money often give them stress and anxiety.

January 19, 2023 —The Trevor Project, the leading suicide prevention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) youth, released a new poll today that finds an overwhelming majority of LGBTQ youth have been negatively impacted by recent debates and laws around anti-LGBTQ policies and that many have also experienced victimization as a result. The poll, conducted by Morning Consult between October 23 and November 2, 2022, among a national sample of 716 LGBTQ youth ages 13–24, also assessed emotional responses to these anti-LGBTQ policies, as well as which other social issues often give LGBTQ youth stress and anxiety. The full analysis can be found here.

These data are published as more than 150 anti-LGBTQ bills have been pre-filed or introduced across 23 states in the first two weeks of 2023.

“Right now, we are witnessing the highest number on record of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this early in any legislative session. We must consider the negative toll of these ugly public debates on youth mental health and well-being. LGBTQ young people are watching, and internalizing the anti-LGBTQ messages they see in the media and from their elected officials. And so are those that would do our community harm,” said Kasey Suffredini (he/him), VP of Advocacy & Government Affairs. “The Trevor Project is proud to see that more than two-thirds of LGBTQ youth, including 81% of transgender and nonbinary youth, have seen, read, or heard about our work to fight back against anti-LGBTQ bills. We are prepared for the fight ahead and will not stop advocating for a safer, more accepting world for all.”

Key Findings:

  • 86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. A majority of those trans youth (55%) said it impacted their mental health “very negatively.”
  • 71% of LGBTQ youth — including 86% of trans and nonbinary youth — say state laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ young people have negatively impacted their mental health.
  • 75% of LGBTQ youth — including 82% of transgender and nonbinary youth — say that threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces, such as community centers, pride events, drag shows, or hospitals/clinics that serve transgender people, often give them stress or anxiety. Nearly half (48%) of those LGBTQ youth reported it gives them stress or anxiety “very often.”

As a result of anti-LGBTQ policies and debates in the last year, transgender and nonbinary youth reported that they have had a range of harmful experiences, including cyberbullying or online harassment (45%); stopped speaking to a family member or relative (42%); didn’t feel safe going to the doctor or hospital when I was sick or injured (29%); a friend stopped speaking to them (29%); bullying at school (24%); their school removed Pride flags or other LGBTQ-friendly symbols (15%); and physical assault (10%). Among all LGBTQ youth, 1 in 3 reported cyberbullying or online harassment, 1 in 4 reported that they stopped speaking to a family member or relative, and 1 in 5 reported bullying.

The Trevor Project tracked a record number (more than 220) of anti-LGBTQ bills that were introduced across the country in 2022, most of which specifically targeted transgender people. As a result of these policies, trans and nonbinary youth are experiencing a range of negative emotions:

  • New policies that will ban doctors from providing gender-affirming medical care to transgender and nonbinary youth make 74% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 59% feel stressed, 56% feel sad, 48% feel hopeless, 47% feel scared, 46% feel helpless, and 45% feel nervous.
  • New policies that will ban transgender girls from playing on girls’ sports teams and transgender boys from playing on boys’ sports teams make 64% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 44% feel sad, 39% feel stressed, and 30% feel hopeless.

In particular, schools have increasingly become a battleground for debates around respecting students’ identities and pronouns, censoring LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums, and banning books.

  • New policies that require schools to tell a student’s parent or guardian if they request to use a different name/pronoun, or if they identify as LGBTQ at school make 67% of transgender and nonbinary youth feel angry, 54% feel stressed, 51% feel scared, 46% feel nervous, and 43% feel sad. 
  • 58% of LGBTQ youth, including 71% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel angry about new policies that ban teachers from discussing LGBTQ topics in the classroom. Among trans youth, 59% feel sad and 41% feel stressed. 
  • 66% of LGBTQ youth, including 80% of transgender and nonbinary youth, feel angry about policies that will ban books in school libraries that discuss LGBTQ topics. Nearly half of LGBTQ youth, including 54% of trans youth, also felt sad about these book bans.

When asked in an open response question — “what social issue impacting our country/world is the most important to you?” — more than two-thirds of LGBTQ youth stated either LGBTQ rights (23%), abortion (17%), racism (15%), or climate change (11%). Then, when provided a list of issues to measure sources of stress and anxiety, a majority of LGBTQ youth said that their mental health (60%), not having enough money (57%), and efforts to restrict access to abortion (52%) give them stress and anxiety “very often,” followed by threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces (48%), anti-LGBTQ hate crimes (47%), homophobia (46%), and gun violence (44%), and racism (42%). Overall, more than 65% of LGBTQ youth also stated that both climate change and police brutality often give them stress and anxiety. 

Black LGBTQ youth sampled reported disproportionately higher rates of racism (+22%), police brutality (+19%), doing poorly in school (+12%), and gun violence (+9%) giving them stress or anxiety “very often” compared to white LGBTQ youth. Transgender and nonbinary youth sampled reported disproportionately higher rates of transphobia (41%), losing their healthcare (22%), anti-LGBTQ hate crimes (21%), and threats of violence in LGBTQ spaces (20%) giving them stress or anxiety “very often” compared to cisgender LGBQ youth.

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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