At The Trevor Project, we provide crisis services to LGBTQ young people whenever and wherever they need us. We know that LGBTQ young people are vulnerable to mental health challenges and are at increased risk for suicide because of how they are mistreated in society and often by those closest to them at home, at school, and in their communities. We are working diligently to change that.
Still, even as we work to support the LGBTQ young people who need us, there are some things that we can’t necessarily provide, but that every person deserves like housing, food, safety and other basic human needs. Organizations across the country like the National League of Cities are working to fill those gaps.
The National League of Cities (NLC) is an organization of municipal leaders from over 2,000 cities and towns across the country that combines local leadership with federal advocacy and nationwide impact. NLC focuses on equity and community engagement across a variety of issues, including education and expanded learning, early childhood success, health and wellness, economic opportunity and financial empowerment, and youth and young adult connections.
At NLC, the marginalization of LGBTQ folks is a pressing concern. To address this, NLC established the LGBTQ+ Local Officials group to provide LGBTQ municipal officials the opportunity to connect with colleagues, share ideas about issues relevant to LGBTQ folks, and develop leadership experience. This includes producing a brief, “How Cities can Embrace the LGBTQ Community through Policies and Programs,” which focuses on city best practices that local leaders can take to become a more inclusive place to live, work and call home.
The Trevor Project’s research on the mental health of LGBTQ young people serves multiple purposes for NLC. First and foremost, it is a call to action for NLC to incorporate LGBTQ-specific programming into their mental health initiatives. The research also raises peripheral issues for LGBTQ young people, like food insecurity and lack of housing, and serves as a strong reminder that as NLC works to support municipal leaders in advancing the vision of just and fair communities where all residents have access to the resources they need for health and well-being. LGBTQ mental health needs to be part of that vision.
Advocacy Campaign Manager at The Trevor Project Gwen Stenbridge added, “According to the Trevor Project, just one supportive adult in the life of an LGBTQ youth lowers their risk of suicide by 40%. Young people are more likely to know or meet their mayor or city council member than a state or federal legislator because those local leaders are representing smaller numbers of residents. Knowing that local leaders have their backs allows young people the space to be more themselves and feel protected not just in big cities but across the country in the places they call home.”
A better world for LGBTQ people and all marginalized communities does not merely have equal legal recognition and anti-discrimination statutes. It must also include targeted policies to alleviate long standing inequities impacting health and economic outcomes for marginalized communities. NLC works to forge equity at both the national and local levels to realize a world where everyone can thrive. We are grateful for the advocacy of the National League of Cities and their life changing work.
Sue Cardenas-Soto is a Copywriter at The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and mental health organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Get-Help, or by texting START to 678-678.