The Trevor Project Opposes HB 609, the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act

March 28, 2017

The Honorable Chairman Alan Doane House Committee on the Judiciary

268 County Road 521

Bloomfield, MT 59315

Dear Chairman Doane:

The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth (LGBTQ) writes to strongly urge you to vote against HB 609, the Montana Locker Room Privacy Act. Many organizations are weighing in on the devastating impacts this bill will have on transgender youth, but it is also critically important that you consider the public health impact this bill will have on the transgender youth of Montana.

The Trevor Project serves youth under 25 and works to save young lives through our accredited free and confidential lifeline, secure instant messaging services which provide live help and intervention, a social networking community for LGBTQ youth, in-school workshops, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy.

Unfortunately, there is a great need for an organization such as Trevor. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. (i) While this alone is shocking enough, it pales in comparison to the statistics regarding transgender youth. In a recent national survey, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25. (ii)

There are many factors that contribute to the high suicide rate for transgender youth: lack of understanding and awareness from others: the rejection of family and friends; bullying; mental health challenges; discrimination and societal stigmatization. If HB 609 is allowed to become law, this ostracizing policy will become one more brick on the backs of transgender youth who are already on the verge of collapsing from too much weight.

Not being allowed to use the restroom or locker room consistent with one’s gender identity can cause significant psychological and social distress. In fact, research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality. (iii) The spread of knowledge that a young person is transgender by others because one requests a reasonable accommodation can lead to severe bullying and violence, including homicide.  Every year in the United States, transgender individuals are killed simply because of who they are. This year alone at least eight transgender individuals have been murdered in the United States. (iv)   Living one’s life as a transgender individual is brave, but it’s also very risky.

Many cities and states have laws explicitly allowing transgender individuals to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity. (v) Since the passage of those laws there hasn’t been a single case of a person posing as a transgender individual to gain access to a restroom for the purpose of carrying out a sexual assault. (vi) Therefore, the idea behind this bill to “protect” children was actually built on a false premise and passing it does nothing to help protect students from predators. In addition, as discussed above, allowing this bill to pass may cause significant suffering for transgender youth in Montana. This should be of particular concern for legislators because Montana currently has the third highest rate of suicide deaths of all fifty states. In 2015, the most current year for which we have data, Montana had a total of 272 deaths by suicide. The national average of suicide deaths is 13.8 per 100,000 residents, Montana’s is 26.3, almost double that of the national average. (vii) In the past year, Trevor has had almost 200 calls, chats and texts from youth in Montana that include transgender youth in mental health crises or youth who were struggling with suicidal ideation. We don’t want the sometimes fragile mental health of transgender youth to possibly be made any worse through public policy that actively discriminates and ostracizes them.

In order to ameliorate this serious public health issue facing Montana, we strongly urge you to vote against HB 609. Should you have any questions or comments please contact Amy Loudermilk, Associate Director of Government Affairs at
or 202-391-0834.

Sincerely,

Steve Mendelsohn

Interim Executive Director

i Kann, L., O’Malley Olsen, E., McManus, T., Kinchecn, S., Chyen, D., Harris, W. A., Wechsler, H. (2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contracts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students Grades 9-12 – Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance, Selected Sites, United States, 2001-2009, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 60(SS07), 1-133.

ii James, S. E., Herman, J. L., Rankin, S., Keisling, M., Mottet, L., & Anafi, M. (2016). The Report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. Washington, DC: National Center for Transgender Equality

iii Seelman, Kristie L. (2016). Transgender Adults’ Access to College Bathrooms and Housing and Relationship to Suicidality. Journal of Homosexuality. 63(10), pp. 1378-1399. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/citedby/10.1080/00918369.2016.1157998?scroll=top&needAccess=true

ivSchmider, Alex. (2017). GLAAD calls for increased and accurate media coverage of transgender murders GLAAD. http://www.glaad.org/blog/glaad-calls-increased-and-accurate-media-coverage-transgender-murders

v American Civil Liberties Association. Know Your Rights: Transgender People and the Law. Accessed at: https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/transgender-people-and-law

vi Brinker, Luke and Maza, Carlos. (2014, March 20). 15 Experts Debunk Right-Wing Transgender Bathroom Myth. Media Matters. Accessed at: http://mediamatters.org/research/2014/03/20/15-experts-debunk-right-wing-transgender-bathro/198533

vii Drapeau, C. W., & McIntosh, J. L. (for the American Association of Suicidology). (2016). U.S.A. suicide 2015: Official final data. Washington, DC: American Association of Suicidology, dated December 23, 2016, downloaded from http://www.suicidology.org.


National LGBTQ Groups Oppose Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court

The Honorable Charles Grassley Chairman
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

224 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Dianne Feinstein Ranking Member
Senate Committee on the Judiciary

152 Dirksen Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

RE: National LGBT Groups Oppose Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court

Dear Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein:

The undersigned national advocacy organizations, representing the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and people living with HIV, oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. After a comprehensive review of Judge Gorsuch’s record, we have concluded that his views on civil rights issues are fundamentally at odds with the notion that LGBT people are entitled to equality, liberty, justice and dignity under the law.

We wish to call to your attention the following aspects of Judge Gorsuch’s record and philosophy that are of particular concern to our organizations and our constituents, and that raise crucial questions of grave consequence to LGBT people, everyone living with HIV, and anyone who cares about these communities.

The Dangers of “Originalism.” Judge Gorsuch professes to be an “originalist.” (1) This philosophy treats the Constitution as frozen in time, meaning that, unless the Constitution has been amended to explicitly protect certain rights, individuals have no more rights today than they did in 1789. (2) This philosophy essentially writes LGBT people out of the Constitution. A few examples of how Judge Gorsuch’s approach would manifest itself in specific areas of the law illustrate why we believe that Judge Gorsuch poses such a grave threat to our community:

Fundamental Rights. We are concerned that Judge Gorsuch’s writings, including his book on assisted suicide, (3) reveal his open hostility toward the very existence of constitutionally protected fundamental rights. No one can read that book and come away with any reasonable doubt that Judge Gorsuch is deeply skeptical that our Constitution protects any fundamental rights beyond those expressly enumerated in the Bill of Rights. Among these unenumerated, yet well-established, fundamental rights are the rights to privacy, autonomy and self-determination, the right to parent, the right to procreative freedom, the right to engage in private consensual adult relationships, and the fundamental right to marry.

Although these rights are important to everyone, they are essential for the LGBT community. These are the rights that have been the lynchpin of our legal progress and that underlie the series of decisions—from Lawrence to Windsor to Obergefell (4) —that have transformed the place of LGBT people in our society. Based on his extensive record, there can be no doubt that, had he been on the Court, Judge Gorsuch would have rejected each of these basic rights. Indeed, as discussed further below, he has been openly critical of same-sex couples for even seeking to vindicate their constitutional rights, including the right to marry, through litigation.

We urge the Committee to press Judge Gorsuch to explain on his views about fundamental rights. For example:

  • Does he believe that there is a fundamental right to privacy, and if so, does the right as he understands it protect consensual adult sexual relationships?
  • Does he believe that the Constitution protects a fundamental right to marry? The right to access contraception? The right to decide whether to continue a pregnancy?

Judge Gorsuch’s articulated judicial philosophy is far outside the legal and social mainstream, and would significantly disrupt Americans’ expectations about the rights that they enjoy under the Constitution. His views should be as frightening to others as they are to the LGBT community. The Committee should require Judge Gorsuch to explain what he means when he describes himself as an “originalist.”

Equal Protection. An originalist view is hostile to the notion that laws targeting historically disfavored groups warrant any form of heightened scrutiny, with the exception of laws that discriminate on the basis of race. Because, in his view, the drafters of the Fourteenth Amendment did not intend to prohibit sex discrimination, Justice Scalia regularly voted against heightened constitutional protections for women. (5)

Judge Gorsuch has praised Justice Scalia, and presumably shares the late Justice’s view that laws targeting women for discrimination should receive nothing more than so-called “rational basis review.” In a 2016 article, Judge Gorsuch praised Justice Scalia’s approach to equal protection, and agreed that “judges should . . . strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be.” (6)

The suggestion that sex-based classifications should not trigger heightened judicial scrutiny discrimination is far outside the mainstream, and has been rejected by the Supreme Court on numerous occasions. (7) If Judge Gorsuch adheres to Justice Scalia’s view that laws discriminating on the basis of gender should not be subjected to heightened scrutiny, then Judge Gorsuch would certainly find nothing wrong with laws that single out LGBT people for discrimination, so long as someone somewhere could conjure up some other reason for passing such a law.

On numerous occasions, the Supreme Court has struck down laws that were passed to make LGBT people “strangers to the law”—an anti-gay ballot initiative in Colorado,8 discriminatory state marriage laws, (9) and a federal law prohibiting recognition of same- sex couples’ marriages. (10) What level of scrutiny would an “originalist” like Judge Gorsuch apply to such laws? Judge Gorsuch should be asked to state his views on the record and required to explain how this approach can possibly be squared with existing Supreme Court precedents striking down laws that single out LGBT people for harmful, unequal treatment.

Role of Courts. Compounding the damage that would result from such a narrow view of the Constitution, Judge Gorsuch has expressed disapproval of people resorting to the courts at all to vindicate their civil rights. For example, in 2005, Judge Gorsuch wrote that “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom . . . as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage” to other issues. (11) He has also called private civil rights litigation “bad for the country.” (12) How can any members of historically persecuted groups, including LGBT people, have confidence that Judge Gorsuch would approach their specific cases with an open mind? The Committee should press these issues in the hearing, as this appointment would last long beyond the term of this particular President. Rather, the damage that could be done by this nominee could span generations.

In numerous other areas as well, Judge Gorsuch poses a significant threat to the LGBT community. In fact, his views are even more extreme and outside the mainstream than Justice Scalia’s, whom Judge Gorsuch is proposed to replace.

Approach to Statutory Construction.  Justice Scalia was a strict textualist, which meant he viewed as irrelevant whether Congress intended a particular understanding and application of the law. Instead, he focused simply on the words of the law as written. Consequently, Justice Scalia found that Title VII’s prohibition on sex discrimination applies to same-sex sexual harassment even though “male-on-male sexual harassment in the workplace was assuredly not the principal evil Congress was concerned with when it enacted Title VII.” (13) Justice Scalia also observed, “[S]tatutory prohibitions often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils, and it is ultimately the provisions of our laws rather than the principal concerns of our legislators by which we are governed.” (14)

As set forth in the letters of other civil rights groups, Judge Gorsuch has taken an extremely narrow view of civil rights laws. (15) Indeed, one Stanford Law Review article analyzing his civil rights jurisprudence concluded:

Judge Gorsuch presents himself as a restrained judge. But that “restraint” often translates to extreme results when applied to legal rights open to interpretation. By attempting to hew to the narrowest reading of rights- creating text, Judge Gorsuch creates new understandings of the law, leaving litigants with limited access to courts and restricting the reach of constitutional and statutory protections. (16)

Although he claims to be an adherent of Justice Scalia’s philosophy, would Judge Gorsuch agree that laws like Title VII “often go beyond the principal evil to cover reasonably comparable evils,” or would he, true to his Court of Appeals record, adopt an artificially narrow reading of the statute’s text in order to achieve his preferred, backwards-looking policy outcome? The Committee should press him on this point, as the civil rights of millions of Americans hang in the balance.

Religious Exemptions from Laws that Someone Believes Would Make Them “Complicit” in Actions of Others. In Employment Division v. Smith, Justice Scalia wrote that the First Amendment has never given individuals a right to opt out of laws that, in their view, burden their exercise of religion. (17)

Yet, in his 10th Circuit decision in Hobby Lobby, Judge Gorsuch insisted instead that any individual should be able to opt out of any law that, in that person’s view, makes them “complicit” in conduct of another considered to be immoral, regardless of how compelling the state’s interest in enforcing the law. (18) In Hobby Lobby, that meant a large for-profit corporation could ignore the requirement in the Affordable Care Act that employer-provided health insurance for employees must include coverage for birth control among basic care options.  Fortunately, the Supreme Court did not adopt Judge Gorsuch’s extreme approach, and made clear that an individual’s claim of religious liberty may not “unduly restrict other persons, such as employees, in protecting their own interests, interests the law deems compelling.” (19)

The Committee should interrogate Judge Gorsuch on his position in this area, as his views on “religious complicity” go well beyond anything that currently exists in American jurisprudence. For example:

  • Does employer-provided health care that includes infertility care make an employer “complicit” in a decision of a non-married couple to have children out of wedlock?
  • Would a law requiring that gender transition-related health care not be excluded from employee health plans make the employer “complicit” in an employee’s decision to undertake a gender transition?
  • Does providing health insurance coverage for an employee’s same-sex spouse make an employer “complicit” in that employee’s same-sex relationship?
  • Does providing coverage for medications such as PrEP, which prevents HIV infection, make an employer “complicit” in the employee’s private sexual conduct?

The American people are entitled to know more about Judge Gorsuch’s views on these subjects, so that they can understand how his approach could potentially impact their rights and their daily interactions with employers, physicians, and other service providers.

Finally, there are other areas where Judge Gorsuch’s views appear to be far outside the mainstream, and to warrant vigorous inquiry:

Relevance of Science to Legal Decision-Making. Judge Gorsuch signed onto an opinion holding that a transgender woman in prison whose hormone therapy was interrupted did not suffer irreparable harm. (20) And yet that conclusion flies in the face of the internationally-recognized Standards of Care of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. (21) We would urge the Committee to ask Judge Gorsuch to clarify whether and when he thinks that medical or social science standards are relevant to legal decision-making.  For example:

  • Would Judge Gorsuch credit the three decades of social science scholarship confirming the parenting skills of LGBT people, or would he disregard these facts?
  • What about current public health understanding of how HIV is transmitted? Would Judge Gorsuch require some basis in fact for state laws concerning HIV transmission, or would he allow states to legislate based on fear and ignorance?

The Committee should insist that Judge Gorsuch explain his judicial philosophy in general on this question and how he would approach these and similar cases.

Employer Defenses to Claims of Discrimination. Numerous other groups have identified examples of Judge Gorsuch’s reluctance to enforce civil rights laws that protect workers. (22) One example in particular raises unique concerns for our community. In Kastl v. Maricopa County Community College District, (23) Judge Gorsuch signed onto an opinion rejecting a transgender woman’s claim of discrimination. In that case, the school denied her access to the women’s restroom, and claimed that it had a non-discriminatory reason for doing so unrelated to her “sex”—“safety concerns” due to the discomfort-based complaints of other students.

The notion that the discomfort of co-workers or customers is sufficient to defeat a claim of discrimination is not only incorrect, it is wholly inconsistent with decades of jurisprudence. (24) The suggestion that vague concerns about “safety,” privacy” or “discomfort” could be enough to satisfy an employer’s burden of proof in a discrimination case not only suggests a hostility to victims of discrimination generally, but also undermines any confidence that one might have that an LGBT person could receive a fair hearing before Judge Gorsuch.  The Committee should insist that Judge Gorsuch answer these and other important questions about his approach to labor and employment law.

The American people have a right to know how the appointment of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court would impact the rights of LGBT Americans, people living with HIV, and other at-risk communities who are entitled to rely upon the Constitution’s guarantees of equality, liberty, dignity and justice under the law. We urge the Committee to demand complete answers from Judge Gorsuch to the important questions that we and others have raised. Only by insisting that Judge Gorsuch answer these questions will the Committee fulfill its responsibility to the American people, and reveal the extent to which his nomination jeopardizes rights and liberties that many Americans believe are secure.

Thank you for considering our views on this important issue.

Very truly yours,

Lambda Legal

CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers

Equality California

Equality Federation

Family Equality Council

GLBTQ Legal Advocates and Defenders (GLAD)

GLSEN

Human Rights Campaign

National Black Justice Coalition

The National Center for Lesbian Rights

National Center for Transgender Equality

National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund

National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance

OutServe-SLDN

PFLAG National Pride at Work

Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE)

Transgender Law Center

Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund

The Trevor Project

Victory Institute

cc: United States Senate Judiciary Committee Members

1 See Neil M. Gorsuch, Of Lions and Bears, Judges and Legislators, and the Legacy of Justice Scalia, 66 CASE W. RES. L. REV. 905 (2015).

2 See Erwin Chemerinsky, What Could Gorsuch Mean for the Supreme Court?: A backward jurist, POLITICO (Feb. 1, 2017), available at http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/02/neil-gorsuch-supreme-court-future-214724 (“Under originalism, no longer would there be constitutional protection for privacy, including reproductive freedom, or a right to marriage equality for gays and lesbians, and or even protection of women from discrimination under equal protection. None of these rights were intended by the framers.”).

3 NEIL M. GORSUCH, THE FUTURE OF ASSISTED SUICIDE AND EUTHANASIA (2009).

4 Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003); United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013); Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

5 See, e.g., J.E.B. v. Alabama, 511 U.S. 127 (1994) (Scalia, J., dissenting, joined by Justice Thomas and Chief Justice Rehnquist) (arguing that state’s use of peremptory strikes on the basis of gender in jury selection did not violate Equal Protection Clause); United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (Scalia, J., dissenting).

6 See Of Lions and Bears, supra note 1.

7 See, e.g., Miss. Univ. for Women v. Hogan, 458 U.S. 718, 724 (1982) (citing Kirchberg v. Feenstra, 450 U.S. 455, 461 (1981); Pers. Adm’r of Mass. v. Feeney, 442 U.S. 256, 273 (1979)); see also United States v. Virginia, 518 U.S. 515 (1996) (referring to the Court’s “skeptical scrutiny” and the “demanding” burden of justification on the State).

8 See Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620 (1996).

9 See Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015).

10 See United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013).

11 Neil Gorsuch, Liberals’N’Lawsuits, NAT’L REVIEW ONLINE (Feb. 7, 2005), available at http://www.nationalreview.com/article/213590/liberalsnlawsuits-joseph-6.

12 Id.

13 Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 523 U.S. 75, 79 (1998).

14  Id. at 79-80.

15 See, e.g., Letter from The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Feb. 15, 2017) (“Leadership Conference letter”); Letter from the Nat’l Educ. Ass’n to U.S. Senate Comm. on the Judiciary (Mar. 9, 2017); Letter from the Nat’l Council of Jewish Women to Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Mar. 9, 2017); Letter from the People for the Am. Way to Mitch McConnell, Charles Schumer, Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (Mar. 9, 2017); and Letter from the Bazelon Ctr. for Mental Health Law to Charles Grassley & Dianne Feinstein (undated).

16 Maria Buxton, Hannah Kieschnick & Robyn D. Levin, Judge Gorsuch and Civil Rights: A Restrictive Reading, 69 STAN. L. REV. ONLINE 155 (2017), available at https://review.law.stanford.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2017/03/69-Stan.-L.-Rev.-Online-155.pdf.

17  494 U.S. 872 (1990).

18 Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, 723 F.3d 1114, 1152-56 (10th Cir. 2013) (Gorsuch, Kelly, Tymovich, J.J., concurring).

19 Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., 134 S. Ct. 2751 (2014).

20  Druley v. Patton, 601 F. App’x 632 (10th Cir. 2015).

21 WORLD PROF’L ASS’N FOR TRANSGENDER HEALTH, STANDARDS OF CARE FOR THE HEALTH OF TRANSSEXUAL,
TRANSGENDER, AND GENDER NONCONFORMING PEOPLE 68 (7th ed. 2012) (“The consequences of abrupt withdrawal of hormones or lack of initiation of hormone therapy when medically necessary include a high likelihood of negative outcomes such as surgical self-treatment by autocastration, depressed mood, dysphoria, and/or suicidality.”).

22  See, e.g., Leadership Conference letter, supra note 15.

23 325 F. App’x 492, 493 (9th Cir. 2009).

24 See, e.g., Palmore v. Sidoti, 466 U.S. 429 (1984) (“Private biases may be outside the reach of the law, but the law cannot, directly or indirectly, give them effect”).


The Trevor Project Signs Mental Health Liaison Group’s Medicaid Letter

The Honorable Mitch McConnell Senate Majority Leader
317 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Paul Ryan Speaker of the House
1233 Longworth House Building Office Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi House Minority Leader
233 Cannon House Office Building Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Charles Schumer Senate Minority Leader
322 Hart Senate Office Building Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Speaker Ryan, Majority Leader McConnell, and Democratic Leaders Pelosi and Schumer:

The Mental Health Liaison Group (MHLG) wishes to express serious concern about recent proposals that would restructure the long-standing and fundamental federal-state financing partnership of the Medicaid program. Such efforts could adversely impact the 14 million vulnerable people living with mental or substance use disorders who depend heavily on Medicaid coverage.

The MHLG is a coalition of more than 60 national organizations representing consumers, family members, mental health and substance use treatment providers, advocates, payers, and other stakeholders committed to strengthening Americans’ access to mental health and substance use services and programs. We urge you to continue to protect vulnerable Americans’ access to vital mental health and substance use disorder care and programs by not reversing the progress we have made with the recent enactment of key mental health reforms in the 21st Century Cures Act and earlier reforms, such as the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPEA) of 2008.

The importance of Medicaid coverage for people living with mental or substance use disorders cannot be overstated. Medicaid is the single largest payer for behavioral health services in the United States, accounting for about 26 percent of behavioral health spending, and is the largest source of funding for the country’s public mental health system. One in five of Medicaid’s nearly 70 million beneficiaries have a mental or substance use disorder diagnosis.

Medicaid covers a broad range of behavioral health services at low or not cost, including but not limited to psychiatric hospital care, residential treatment for children, case management, day treatment, evaluation and testing, psychosocial rehabilitation (which includes supported employment, housing, and education), medication management, school-based services as well as individual, group and family therapy. In three dozen states, Medicaid covers essential peer support services to help sustain  recovery. Because people with behavioral health disorders experience a higher rate of chronic physical conditions than the general population, Medicaid’s coverage of primary care helps them receive treatment for both their behavioral health disorders and their physical conditions.

The state Medicaid expansion has proven to be crucial for low-income adults living with mental and substance use disorders. About 29 percent (3 million people) of low-income persons who receive health insurance coverage through the state Medicaid expansion program have a mental or substance use disorder. In states that have expanded Medicaid and which have been particularly hard hit by the opioid crisis, such as Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia, Medicaid pays between 35 to 50 percent of medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorders.

We now know that early access to mental health and substance use disorder services is essential to reducing the incidence and severity of these disorders. We also know that treating these disorders is a key factor in reducing the nation’s overall health care costs and the incidence of adverse encounters with the criminal justice system and homelessness, as well as in keeping people both in school and employed. Medicaid enables low-income people with mental or substance use disorders to receive care when they need it rather than waiting until there is a crisis, thus enabling them to lead healthier lives as fully participating members of our communities.

Recognizing Medicaid’s vital role in bringing mental health and substance use services to vulnerable populations, we are deeply concerned about recent proposals to block grant or cap the federal share of Medicaid. These models would dramatically restructure Medicaid’s joint federal-state financing partnership and the federal government’s guarantee of matching funds to states for qualifying Medicaid expenditures. Although details of current proposals have not yet been released, based on past proposals, we believe that converting Medicaid into a block grant or a per capita cap would shift significant costs to states up front, and over time. Experts have forecasted a 30 to 40 percent cut in the federal share of Medicaid over 10 years (Sperling, New York Times, December 25, 2016). Ultimately, states will be forced to reduce their Medicaid rolls, benefits, and already low payment rates to an already scarce workforce of behavioral health providers. Mental health and substance use disorder treatments and programs will be at high risk.

If states are forced to limit enrollment, eliminate covered benefits, and cut provider rates, we also believe that this will lead to substantial job losses in the behavioral health care industry. Such job losses could lead to additional unemployment, followed by additional reliance on public safety net programs, such as Medicaid.

The MHLG believes that the integrity of the Medicaid program must be preserved and that much can be achieved through more targeted reforms, such as the types of reforms we supported in the recently enacted 21st Century Cures Act. These included, for example, mental health prevention in the very young, early intervention, and care coordination and integration. We stand ready to work with you to promote these types of targeted reforms throughout the Medicaid program.

Sincerely,

American Art Therapy Association
American Association of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry
American Association on Health and Disability
American Counseling Association
American Dance Therapy Association
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
American Group Psychotherapy Association
American Nurses Association
American Occupational Therapy Association
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association
American Society of Addiction Medicine
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare
Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice
Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD)
Clinical Social Work Association
Clinical Social Work Guild 49 OPEIU-AFL-CIO
Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
Eating Disorders Coalition
EMDR International Association
Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice
International Certification & Reciprocity Consortium
The Jewish Federations of North America
Legal Action Center
Mental Health America
NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals
National Alliance on Mental Illness
National Association for Children’s Behavioral Health
National Association for Rural Mental Health
National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors
National Association of School Psychologists
National Association of Social Workers
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors
National Health Care for the Homeless Council
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
National Register of Health Service Psychologists
Sandy Hook Promise
School Social Work Association of America
The Trevor Project
Treatment Communities of America


Letter from Interim Executive Director Steve Mendelsohn

Dear Friends,

March is an exciting month for the LGBTQ+ community and The Trevor Project, as we take time to celebrate a range of important events that raise awareness for identities and issues within our diverse community.  During this period of uncertainty and stress, it’s even more important for us to take time to recognize the health issues facing our community, and to take action to heal them.

March is Bisexual Health Awareness Month, and this year The Bisexual Resource Center announced that the month’s focus will be identifying social health disparities within the bisexual community while taking steps to build social support and resiliency. “Now more than ever, communities need to come together to offer support, stand up to injustice, and plan our continued efforts to survive and thrive,” said BRC Co-Presidents Heather Benjamin and Kate Estrop in a joint statement.  We encourage young people who are bisexual, pansexual, queer, questioning, or simply curious to check out our Support Center with resources on bisexuality.

We kicked off March a bit early from February 26th to March 4th by recognizing National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. LGBTQ-identified people are disproportionately impacted by eating disorders, as they experience unique stressors that can be contributing factors in the development of an eating disorder, such as coming out and harassment in schools or the workplace.  Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and unhealthy coping mechanisms such as substance abuse — all of which are common co-occurring conditions — can all compound this issue.  To raise awareness, we co-hosted two Twitter chats using the hashtag #NEDAwareness to talk about this issue.  We encourage all young people to reach out to NEDA to find resources and support.

March also marks Women’s History Month.  Our social media channels will be featuring LGBTQ women who have made a huge impact throughout the month.  Also, check out some of our Trevor Project staff wearing red in solidarity with the #DayWithoutAWoman strike.

Trevor is also continuously monitoring issues that affect our LGBTQ young people and we’re working in coalition with our colleague organizations to respond to issues that arise on the federal, state and local levels.  We update our blog on a regular basis with statements and letters we’ve submitted via the many coalitions we are a part of.

We wrap up March by celebrating Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV) on March 31st, a day to show your support for the trans community.  Unlike Transgender Day of Remembrance in November which is primarily a day of mourning, TDOV is a day of empowerment to celebrate and recognize the amazing trans community.  In the face of the Title IX Guidance Withdrawal and the Supreme Court’s recent decision in the Gavin Grimm case, it’s even more important for us to show up as visible allies in solidarity with trans folks around the country.  Join in with the hashtag #TDOR as we celebrate!

However you identify, we encourage all young people who are struggling to reach out to talk to us 24/7/365 at: 1-866-488-7386 or contact us via text or chat.  We hear you and we are here to support you no matter what.

Steve Mendelsohn
Interim Executive Director, The Trevor Project


The Trevor Project Competes to Win the Brackets For Good Championship!

The Trevor Project is honored to be selected by AT&T to participate in an online competition called “Brackets for Good” which works very similarly to how NCAA basketball teams advance through the March Madness tournament.  With all the stress that the world is serving us right now, The Trevor Project sees this as an excellent way to put our energy into creating positive change by supporting LGBTQ+ youth.

The way the Trevor Project wins Brackets for Good is by advancing through the brackets based on donations.  Every dollar donated equals a point for Trevor.  You can help Trevor advance by putting your points on the board! Every dollar you donate moves us closer to our goal. Get in the game and help us win!

The first round of the tournament has already ended and we’ve made it to the next bracket!  With your help we can advance to the next round and even go as far as winning the championship and a $100,000 grant from AT&T. A grant of this size would help us provide additional days each week of TrevorText and TrevorChat, our free, confidential and secure service in which LGBTQ young people can text or chat with a highly-trained Trevor counselor for support and crisis intervention.

Share this with other sports fans who understand the power of giving, or with anyone who believes that LGBTQ young people deserve help when and how they need it and to know that they are not alone. You can also share this competition via your social media:

Want to support LGBTQ+ youth? Donate to our @BracketsForGood campaign to help @TrevorProject  win the championship!


Ingrid Michaelson​ Supports The Trevor Project with #UseYourHeart Tees

The Trevor Project is thrilled that singer-songwriter Ingrid Michaelson is using her creative talents to support crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs and services for LGBTQ youth by designing and selling a t-shirt with proceeds coming back to the organization. Ingrid says, “I, like many others, have been deeply affected by the divisiveness in this country, which appears to be magnified more so now than ever. I wanted to do something to help bring people together, but I didn’t know what. A few friends suggested designing a tee and donating the profits to an organization that protects people who may feel threatened in this present climate. So that’s what I did. I feel like we can all agree that this is an important time to use your heart.”

So far, Ingrid has sold more than 1,000 shirts and she sent the shirt to a number of her friends, a few of whom we are sure you’ll recognize.  Check out this one minute video to see who is using their heart and supporting Trevor.  Ingrid sells this “Use Your Heart” shirt via her website – get yours today!

Once your “Use Your Heart” Tee arrives, tag photos of yourself wearing the shirt using #UseYourHeartTee and @UseYourHeartTee @TrevorProject on Instagram and Twitter to show your support.


The Trevor Project Responds to Gavin Grimm’s Supreme Court Case

The Trevor Project is disappointed to learn of the Supreme Court’s decision to send transgender student Gavin Grimm’s case back to the lower appeals court.  We, like many others, hoped this Title IX question would be settled once and for all and that no other transgender youth would have to engage in psychologically taxing litigation and scrutiny.  We remain optimistic that the appeals court will again uphold their initial ruling that Title IX protects transgender students.

Steve Mendelsohn, the Interim Executive Director of The Trevor Project said, “Not being allowed to use the restroom or locker room consistent with one’s gender identity can cause significant psychological and social distress. In fact, research has shown a high correlation between transgender young people being denied the right to use the appropriate bathroom and suicidality.  We are hopeful that the lower court will support their earlier decision which will contribute to the well-being of trans youth and reduce the likelihood of poor mental health outcomes in these populations.”

We #StandWithGavin.


Trevor Project is a Founding Nonprofit Partner of Revlon’s Love Project 2017

The Trevor project is thrilled to be an original nonprofit founding partner of Revlon’s Love Project 2017.  The campaign is based on the view that love is the foundation for a happier, more beautiful world.

The campaign previewed this week with a 30-second teaser video, featuring “Million Reasons” by Lady Gaga, and was posted exclusively on the singer’s social channels. This video will be followed by a commercial spot starring Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams and Ellen DeGeneres, that will air during The 89th Academy Awards broadcast on Sunday, February 26th.  The commercial will initiate a call-to-action to help spread more love in the world, inviting anyone who is inspired by love to visit theloveproject2017.com and create custom, shareable content that symbolizes what love means to them with the hashtag #Lovein3Words.  At the Trevor Project, our “love in three words” is #SavingYoungLives.

People can join the Love Project movement by visiting www.theloveproject2017.com to create their custom #Lovein3Words to post on their social channels, make a donation to Trevor and inspire others to join in, donate, and help spread the love. As the campaign unfolds, supporters will learn more ways in which they can choose love and inspire others to do the same.

“The Love Project is the beginning of a social movement which aims to inspire more love, acceptance, and caring in the world,” said Carlos Barreto, Revlon Senior Vice President Marketing. “At the heart of this campaign is the belief that all people are beautiful and that love can create a better world.”

“The Trevor Project is incredibly grateful to Revlon, Lady Gaga, Pharrell Williams, and most especially to our long-time supporter Ellen DeGeneres for pushing forward a movement of love and kindness, which is so vital to the positive mental health of our LGBTQ young people,” said Trevor Project interim Executive Director Steve Mendelsohn. “The expanded awareness of our services via the Love Project campaign to such wide audiences, including both LGBTQ youth and the countless people who care about them, will be instrumental in helping the Trevor Project save young LGBTQ lives and be there for them every day whenever and however they need us.”

The Trevor Project is thrilled that the campaign debuts during the Oscars, as the organization was founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR.

ABOUT
The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25.  The Trevor Project offers a suite of crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as a peer-to-peer social network support for LGBTQ young people under the age of 25, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our highly-trained Trevor Lifeline crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. www.TheTrevorProject.org


The Trevor Project Joins 127 organizations Urging Passage of the End Racial and Religious Profiling

The Trevor Project joined the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and the 126 undersigned organizations, urging legislators to cosponsor S. 411, the End Racial and Religious Profiling Act of 2017 (ERRPA). Passage of this bill is needed to put an end to racial and religious profiling by law enforcement officials and to ensure that individuals are not prejudicially stopped, investigated, arrested, or detained based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Policies primarily designed to impact certain groups are ineffective and often result in the destruction of civil liberties for everyone.

View this letter online here.


The Trevor Project Joins 300+ Civil & Human Rights Organizations in Opposing Confirmation of Gorsuch

Today, the Trevor Project joined more than 300 national organizations committed to promoting and protecting the civil and human rights of all persons in sending a letter in opposition of the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  Sent by The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights to Chairman Grassley and Ranking Member Feinstein outlining concerns that Judge Gorsuch would tip the balance of the Court in a direction that would undermine many of our core rights and legal protections.  Specifically surrounding LGBTQ issues: “in his 2005 National Review article Judge Gorsuch expressed disdain for those seeking to use the courts to enforce their rights under the law, and he specifically criticized LGBT Americans who have relied on federal courts in their quest for equality. The rationale he employed in the Hobby Lobby case – a license to discriminate for private corporations – has also been used by several states to justify discrimination against LGBT Americans. And his skepticism about LGBT claims is also demonstrated in a 2015 case, Druley v. Patton, where he voted to reject a claim by a transgender woman incarcerated in Oklahoma who alleged that her constitutional rights were violated when she was denied medically necessary hormone treatment and the right to wear feminine clothing. Other federal courts have reached the opposite conclusion in such cases.”

The full letter with footnotes sent to Mr. Grassley and Ms. Feinstein can be found here. http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2017/oppose-gorsuch.html