LGBTQ Advocacy Updates

February and March have been months of change for the LGBTQ community, despite the anti-LGBTQ bills we’ve seen in MissouriGeorgia, and North Carolina. While we are outraged that Missouri‘s religious freedom bill passed and Governor Pat McCrory just signed HB 2, a bill that will limit all LGBTQ protections and transgender bathroom rights in North Carolina, we must also celebrate the progress that we’ve seen.

Georgia Governor Nathan Deal just vetoed House Bill 757, which would have allowed faith-based organizations and businesses to decline services to the LGBTQ community. New York banned conversion therapy and Mayor Bill de Blasio approved Executive Order #16, mandating that NYC facilities provide bathroom access to transgender people consistent with their gender identities. In South Dakota, schools became safer for LGBTQ students when Dennis Dauggard vetoed HB 1008, a bill that would have banned transgender students from safely accessing their school bathrooms. Advocacy moments such as these pave the way for brighter LGBTQ futures, yet we must recognize that there is still more work to do.

Just two months ago, City of West Hollywood Council Member John Heilman, who is also a Trevor supporter, responded to a story in our newsletter and brought a resolution to the city council asking for support of the reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, which will help make it possible for state, schools, and tribes to receive funding for mental health programs, including crisis hotlines and suicide prevention services. Due to Heilman’s support, the City of West Hollywood will generate letters to California Senators, as well as some key people in Congress to help Trevor make national change.

Join Heilman and West Hollywood in showing your support here and help us speak out against discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ measures on our Advocacy page.


Statement from Abbe Land: North Carolina Passes Anti-LGBTQ Law

We join thousands of human rights advocates in expressing outrage over the passage of HB 2, which invalidates all LGBTQ protections throughout North Carolina, including prohibiting safe access to restrooms for the transgender community. The fact that Governor Pat McCrory took such a narrow-minded, anti-human action so late at night, with little notice, demonstrates he knows the public will be fighting back. LGBTQ rights are human rights, and taking away the ability for a city to make its citizens safe and equal goes against the basic tenets of government responsibility. We are here 24/7 for all young people in North Carolina who now have to deal with the emotional impact of witnessing authoritative figures in their home state take an action that may negatively impact their futures.  We cannot back down now. There will always be more work to do.

To join us in inspiring change across the U.S., learn about how to take action on our Advocacy Page. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


Trevor Hosts Students for Alternative Spring Break

In March, The Trevor Project’s Community Engagement and Outreach team organized activities for student Alternative Spring Break groups from across the nation who were driven to help us save young LGBTQ lives.  Wingate University, Gettysburg College, and Florida International University students had an intensive overview of Trevor’s story, our vision, mission, and programs. Trevor Ally, Advocacy, Outreach, and LGBTQIA competency-based trainings prepared Wingate and Florida International students to do outreach in New York, distributing resources about our services to youth-based organizations and community centers.

In a cultural exchange between The Trevor Project  and LGBT Youth Japan, a Tokyo-based student organization that educates Japanese young people about LGBT support systems currently employed by foreign countries, our Wingate student volunteers learned about the state of LGBT youth in Japan, while our Japanese students were informed about our lifesaving work. An LGBT Youth Japan student, Kody, was particularly inspired by the visit: “I’ve known about your organization since Tyler Oakley started hosting the red carpet for TrevorLIVE. I’ve always wanted to visit you since then, so it was a dream come true moment! Now, inspired by people I met in New York, I’ve decided to continue posting various coming out videos by interviewing my ally and LGBT friends in order to increase our visibility in Japan and help young LGBT people who might be in need of help and encouragement.”

We are grateful that we had the opportunity to connect with young people through education and we look forward to seeing them become leaders within the LGBTQ community.


Trevor Recognizes Women’s History and Bisexual+ Health Awareness Month

Proclaimed by President Jimmy Carter in 1987, Women’s History Week was originally established by The Education Task Force of the Sonoma County Commission on the Status of Women to teach K-12 classrooms about the suffrage movement in the United States. Now known as Women’s History Month, the time is recognized internationally on March 8 for International Women’s Day, a time to highlight women across the world, take action, and pledge gender parity.

During Women’s History Month, The Trevor Project acknowledges that transgender women must also be recognized across the world. Transphobia has become a national crisis, especially for trans women of color. We are still faced with the staggering reality that 41 percent of transgender and gender non-conforming people have attempted suicide. Through TrevorChat and TrevorText, we were able to serve 54 percent of crisis contacts who identified as female and 19 percent of our digital crisis contacts were transgender, genderqueer, or third gender.

We continue to use such platforms as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram to connect with young people, highlight inspiring LGBTQ activists, and talk about the struggles of marginalized groups.In March, we are also raising awareness about Bisexual Resource Center’s Bi+ Health Awareness Month, sharing information about Bi+ activists, Bi+ health disparities, and Bi+ resources, like the Trevor Support CenterBiNetUSA and BRC. According to LGBTmap.org, U.S. Bi+ females experience higher rates of intimate partner violence than gay, lesbian, or straight people, as well as higher rates of poverty and PTSD. In fact, one of the second largest groups we serve on TrevorChat and TrevorText is bisexual. We recognize Bi+ Day of Remembrance on March 11 as a time to remember all Bi+ lives lost, and show all Bi+ folks we are here for them always. We support feminists and Bi+ activists who are fighting for LGBTQ rights each and every day, and we want to remind folks that we support all LGBTQ young people 24/7 on our Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org.


Statement from Abbe Land: South Dakota Governor Vetoes Anti-Trans Student Bathroom Bill

FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers his during his annual state of the state address at the state Capitol in Pierre. Daugaard faces a deadline Tuesday, March 1, 2016, to make a decision about a bill that would require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth. Daugaard hasn’t said what he plans to do with the proposal. If he signs the legislation or allows it to take effect without his signature, South Dakota would become the first state in the nation with such a law. (AP Photo/James Nord, File)

As one of the leaders in advocacy and policy change for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project applauds Governor Dennis Dauggard for vetoing HB 1008, a bill that would have banned transgender students from safely accessing bathrooms in their schools.

With nearly half of young transgender people who have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter who have reported having made a suicide attempt [4], Governor Dauggard’s vetoing of this bill is just one step towards ensuring the mental health and well-being of transgender youth in school environments.

While South Dakota has made progress by vetoing HB 1008, there are similar anti-trans bills across Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. At The Trevor Project, we are advocating to require LGBTQ suicide prevention training of all school personnel through our Model School District Policy, which includes recognizing the genders of transgender youth, both through LGBTQ education and affirmative spaces, such as bathrooms. With your support of this policy, we can ensure that youth have brighter educations, regardless of gender or sexuality.

To join us in inspiring change across the U.S., learn about how to take action on our Advocacy Page. Thank you for helping save young lives by joining us in our advocacy efforts.

 

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

SOURCE

[4] Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors. 37(5), 527-37.

Photo via AP/James Nord


The Lifeguard Workshop: Trevor’s New Online Education Resource

At The Trevor Project, we know one supportive person can make a difference in an LGBTQ young person’s life. We also know that it can sometimes be difficult to have conversations about mental health, suicide prevention, and LGBTQ identity in the classroom. That’s why we are launching a new online educational resource—The Lifeguard Workshop—to help teachers, mental health professionals, social workers, administrators, PTAs, GSAs, and faith groups share lifesaving programs with youth in their communities. With this resource, we are showing youth they are not alone and it is brave to ask for help.

We have heard so many stories about teachers and counselors who have made young people feel safe and accepted.  For example, one 15-year-old trans person in California told us:

“My Spanish teacher had a little sticker on her desk that said that her classroom was a safe space for LGBT students. I decided that I would come out to her because I really wanted to have someone to talk to about school and being trans. She supported me and told me that she was happy for me…She automatically changed pronouns for me in class, and she was always available for me to talk.”

Based on The Trevor Project’s in-person workshop, which is listed in the SPRC/AFSP Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention, we’ve designed The Lifeguard Workshop to include a video, Safer Spaces Guide, and empathy building lessons for middle school and high school aged youth. The Lifeguard Workshop teaches youth how to identify the challenges faced by LGBTQ people, recognize the warning signs of suicide, and respond to someone who may be in crisis. TheTrevorProject.org/Lifeguard also provides information on The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention services, like our 24/7 Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, TrevorChat and TrevorText, and our online community, TrevorSpace.org.

To celebrate the launch of The Lifeguard Workshop, we’ve designed a classroom poster and other educational resources you can order here. Since these are new resources, please take a moment to provide us with your feedback by completing a Teacher Survey after using them in your classroom.  And, if you’d like to bring The Trevor Project’s staff to your school district, you can sign up for Care and Ally Training.

We launched our resources at Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference in February, where we joined 45 national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ young people and presented workshops on how to educate young people and youth-serving professionals on LGTBQ-competent suicide prevention, risk detection, and response. Transgender activist and children’s book author Jazz Jennings joined in supporting our efforts, with a shout-out on Twitter to her over 43.7K followers.

From March 9-12, Trevor will be at the American Association of Social Workers Conference in Baltimore, and from March 18-20, we will be in North Carolina at the LGBT in the South Conference to present The Lifeguard Workshop live, joining educators and youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts in the field. And, in the summer, watch out for our Summer Reading List on our Pinterest page to further your support of LGBTQ youth when the school season ends.

To help make it easier for schools to prevent, assess, intervene in, and respond to suicidal behavior, The Trevor Project has also collaborated to create a Model School District Policy for Suicide Prevention. This modular, adaptable document will help educators and school administrators implement comprehensive suicide prevention policies in communities nationwide. The fact sheet and full policy can be downloaded here.

Youth-serving professionals can also join our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, for a monthly informational webinar which will explore how to facilitate a Lifeguard Workshop, address tough questions, and make classrooms safer spaces. For more information, you can contact her at [email protected]

With education, we can help prevent suicide. Thank you to the educators and leaders who are sharing lifesaving resources with youth in their communities. You are making a difference!

Photo one features Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land, along with our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, and Vice President of Programs, David Bond, holding our new educational posters.  Photo two features TrevorLIVE Youth Innovator, trans activist, and children’s book author Jazz Jennings.


PowerOn: Providing Technology to Underserved LGBTQ Youth

As a queer Division I runner in college who often felt alone in his sports community, Trevor Youth Advisory Council member Tom Woermer found that the ally community embraced his identity. In an effort to help other LGBTQ youth feel less isolated, he started the PowerOn initiative with The Trevor Project, Straight But Not Narrow, and human-I-T to help underserved LGBTQ youth gain access to computers, tablets, and phones. Now research nonprofit LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute has joined the the PowerOn initiative to further help LGBTQ youth establish invaluable connections and support networks.

For some LGBTQ young people, the internet is the sole place to find peers, engage in civic activities, and search for medical and health information. According to GLSEN’s “Out Online” study, 52% of LGBTQ youth who are not out to peers in person have used the internet to connect with other LGBTQ people. 50% of LGBTQ youth have at least one close online friend, and 77% take part in an online community that supports a cause or issue. It is for this reason that The Trevor Project joined PowerOn after building TrevorSpace.org, a safe, confidential, online network of over 200,000 LGBTQ youth and their straight ally friends.  “At The Trevor Project, we know that connecting to a community can reduce the risk for suicide attempts and other high-risk behaviors. That’s why we are so excited for this collaboration,” says Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.

Initially, Tom began raising awareness of PowerOn by reaching out to rural LGBTQ centers where he knew LGBTQ youth would feel safe and comfortable, eventually expanding his efforts to homeless shelters.  After providing 40 computers and tablets to 40 homeless LGBTQ youth at the True Colors Fund and several other centers, PowerOn began to provide 100 phones and service plans to LGBTQ youth around the D.C. area.

Most recently, The Fosters actor Gavin Mackintosh announced that he’ll be donating unused and old electronics to LGBTQ youth through a PowerOn PSA, and we are grateful for the visibility. As Tom says, “PowerOn is eliminating barriers that once prevented LGBTQ youth from finding themselves through community connections.”

If you would like to support PowerOn, you can donate old laptops, tablets, and smartphones at human-i-t.org/ally. human-I-T will collect and refurbish all computers free of charge. Thank you for helping us give LGBTQ youth instant access to open-source technology and LGBTQ online resources, like The Trevor Project’s TrevorChat and TrevorText, TrevorSpace.org, and Trevor Support Center. We look forward to seeing you #PowerOn on Twitter!

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Straight But Not Narrow

Founded in 2011, Straight But Not Narrow has quickly become a leading ally organization.  With the help of celebrities and other young influencers, SBNN is a 501c3 non-profit charity primarily focused on straight youth and young adults, and strives to positively influence the perception of, and behavior toward their LGBTQ peers. For more information, visit www.wearesbnn.com and follow on Twitter at @WeAreSBNN.

LGBT Technology Partnership & Institute

The LGBT Technology Institute is a tax-exempt non-profit organization conducting cutting edge research at the intersection of LGBT communities and technology and creates resources, tools, and programs to support LGBT communities. The LGBT Technology Institute strives to serve LGBT communities through education, programs, partnerships and research, and is committed to expanding research to better LGBT communities all around the world. For more information, visit www.lgbttechpartnership.org and follow at @LGBTTech.

human-I-T

human-I-T is a tech-based non-profit in Los Angeles, California that breathes new life into old devices. A socially responsible company, human-I-T is leading the charge to close the digital divide by turning E-waste into opportunities and educational tools. By partnering with local governments and organizations, human-I-T creates programs that ensure no one is left behind digitally. For more information about how to help bridge the digital divide, visit smarthuman.org. Follow @right2tech.


Trevor Helps Introduce the D.C. Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act

According to the Centers for Disease Control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2012, nearly 15% of the District of Columbia’s students ages 11-17 had contemplated suicide at some point, with statistics more than doubling for the LGBTQ population, ages 11-13.

In an effort to reduce these alarming numbers, D.C. Council Member David Grosso worked with The Trevor Project, The D.C. Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and others on the Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act, which was introduced in the fall of 2015.  Requiring suicide prevention training of all school personnel in D.C., this is the first bill in the nation to specifically require education about LGBTQ youth as a group with a higher risk of suicide. The Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act will require that information about the LGBTQ population be provided to all school employees, with an update in curriculum every five years to ensure the latest research is being incorporated.

With training, teachers and administrators can better identify youth who may be at-risk for suicidal ideation and refer those students to mental health professionals.  In an effort to improve student performance and attendance in the classroom, school personnel will be also be able to identify factors in the school environment that may contribute to youth stressors, such as the lack of safe spaces and gender neutral bathrooms, interpersonal relationships, social interactions, and organizational processes.

Through early intervention, the D.C. Youth Suicide Prevention & Climate Survey Act is a long-term investment in young people’s futures. Co-sponsored by twelve out of thirteen council members, the bill has overwhelming support and will soon go to the full council for final votes. Ultimately, by enacting this bill, we believe it will become the model legislative statute for other states to adopt, which will help stop suicide and specifically protect LGBTQ youth.

Council Member Grosso says, “It has been an honor to work with the Trevor Project and other advocate organizations on drafting and passing the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015. Throughout the legislative process, The Trevor Project was a strong partner and consistent advocate for the best mental health services and policies to put our students in the best position to learn and succeed. I thank them for their partnership and look forward to working with them on future projects.”

To join us in inspiring change across the U.S., learn about how to take action on our Advocacy Page. Thank you for helping save young lives by joining us in our advocacy efforts.


Corporate Spotlight: Baxter International

Over the last few years, we have experienced a surge in the need for our digital program, TrevorChat.  With the mission to expand access to healthcare for the disadvantaged and underserved in the United States and around the world, healthcare company Baxter International’s foundation generously provided The Trevor Project with a grant that made it possible for us to significantly increase the number of Trevor-trained volunteer counselors supporting LGBTQ youth in crisis.

We appointed two full-time TrevorChat shift supervisors, which allowed us to provide supervision and training to many more volunteer counselors, while also maintaining seven days a week of TrevorChat sessions. Together with Baxter, we can continue to innovate the ways in which we offer lifesaving and life-affirming support, and we are so grateful.


Trevor’s Affirming #SelfLoveSelfie Campaign: #HeartYourself

Valentine’s Day can be a difficult time for LGBTQ youth who feel unsupported by their family, friends, and communities. During the month of February, we also recognize two serious movements that affect how young people treat others and themselves: Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (February 21-27).

Both movements demonstrate that it can sometimes be hard for young people to find self-love, practice healthy love, and care for themselves.  But struggling with any issue, whether it is depression, disordered eating, or an unhealthy relationship, does not mean a person is broken. Instead, this is an opportunity to pause and recognize when a person needs help.

That is why The Trevor Project is here to offer validating acceptance and support, 24/7. For the young people who don’t feel they can confide in anyone, we are here to listen through calls, chats, and texts. Our safe, supportive online community TrevorSpace.org also provides a place for young people to connect and share their experiences over issues they care about.

To show our support, we launched a series of photos for a #heartyourself #selfloveselfie campaign, encouraging #LGBTQ youth to share how they practice self-care and affirm their identities. All are welcome to take part, any time. We are here to support you.