Defending What We’ve Won: The Trevor Project Files an Amicus in the 11th Circuit Defending Boca Raton’s Anti-conversion Therapy Law

Following a successful lower court ruling defending the anti-conversion therapy ordinance in Boca Raton, FL, The Trevor Project filed an amicus brief today with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit in the case of Otto v. Boca Raton. The new amicus brief provides the Court and the public with The Trevor Project’s unique insights collected from our inaugural National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health revealing the devastating impact this dangerous and discredited practice has on LGBTQ youth.

The Trevor Project survey of 34,000 LGBTQ youth found that of the 5% of LGBTQ youth who reported undergoing conversion therapy, 42% reported a suicide attempt in the past year. LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide in the past 12 months compared to their LGBTQ peers who did not report undergoing conversion therapy.

As argued in our amicus brief, The Trevor Project has a special interest in supporting the enforcement of ordinances prohibiting the practice of conversion therapy because many of the young people that The Trevor Project serves are survivors of conversion therapy or have a credible fear that their family members will compel them to receive conversion therapy.  

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign works to introduce and defend legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in every state in the country. Through our research, we can provide a unique and important perspective for the court regarding the potential harm of granting a preliminary injunction stopping enforcement of Boca Raton’s anti-conversion therapy ordinance. Once legislation is passed protecting youth from conversion therapy, it is just as important to defend these laws in court.

The Trevor Project was represented in this matter by pro bono counsel from Gibson Dunn, including Stuart Delery, Lora MacDonald, Corey Singer, and Dione Garlick.


Beto O’Rourke’s Platform Includes Protecting LGBTQ Youth From Conversion Therapy

By John Paul Brammer

On the heels of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiling her LGBTQ platform, fellow presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke announced Wednesday that his plan also includes protecting LGBTQ youth from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

The plan details executive actions O’Rourke would pursue in support of the LGBTQ community. “We must ensure all Americans are treated equally no matter who they are or who they love,” O’Rourke said in a statement on the proposal.

In addition to overturning the ban on transgender troops in the military and supporting the Equality Act, O’Rourke said he would task the FTC with cracking down on conversion therapy as a form of fraud, in an approach similar to that proposed by Congressman Ted Lieu’s “Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act.”

Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people. In fact, in The Trevor Project’s National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy reported a suicide attempt in the last year.

“Politicians across the country are recognizing that conversion therapy has no place in our modern health care system because there is nothing wrong with being LGBTQ. In fact, the conversion therapy itself is what causes the harms,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “At The Trevor Project, we hear from youth harmed by conversion therapy every week and appreciate candidates like former Congressman O’Rourke using their voice to protect our vulnerable youth.”

Statements like O’Rourke’s and Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy practiced by licensed professionals, which is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.


Maloney Introduces LGBTQ Essential Data Act to Combat Deadly Violence Against LGBTQ Community

The bill, which strengthens the National Violent Death Reporting System, is introduced on third anniversary of Pulse Nightclub shooting.

WASHINGTON — In observance of the third anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando that killed 49 Americans, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) introduced the LGBTQ Essential Data Act, which will strengthen the Center for Disease Control’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) by improving data collection regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in violent deaths.

“Victims of violence targeted at the LGBTQ community are often invisible to the rest of the world just because of who they are or who they love. We need quality data showing where, how, why, and to whom this violence is happening to get in action and save LGBTQ lives,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.

Various barriers exist to the collection of data on sexual orientation and gender identity, and the National Violent Death Reporting System faces a backlog of data in several states. At the time of the Pulse Nightclub shooting Florida did not utilize the NVDRS, meaning the lives lost in the Orlando attack were not recorded as anti-LGBT murders in any data collection.

The LGBTQ Essential Data Act is endorsed by the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, PFLAG National, and the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSEN).

  • “In an era where the Trump-Pence administration is attempting to erase LGBTQ people from government websites and data collection, legislation like the LGBTQ Essential Data Act is all the more crucial. LGBTQ people, particularly transgender women of color, are too often victims of violence and even death. The LGBTQ Essential Data Act will give lawmakers and law enforcement the necessary tools to work toward justice and develop comprehensive legislative solutions to fight this epidemic. We thank Rep. Maloney for his leadership and for helping us create a safer LGBTQ community,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy.
  • “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Violent Death Reporting System is a critical tool in the mission of ending LGBTQ youth suicide across the country. Unfortunately, The Trevor Project research has found that despite good intention and the optional collection of sexual orientation and gender identity, many states simply don’t know how best to collect this vital information. The LGBTQ Essential Data Act will provide direction and funding to improve the process of capturing sexual orientation and gender identity at the time of death, thereby providing life-saving data to prevent future violent deaths. Who we are must not be erased when we die,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.
  • “Given the ever-increasing number of transgender women of color brutally murdered each year—and the added incidence of harmful risk for LGBTQ+ people—the CDC collecting data and funding the program appropriately will save lives. Thanks to the brave and mindful leadership of Rep. Maloney introducing this bill, we can hold hope that our LGBTQ+ loved-ones’ lives won’t be erased, and PFLAGers across the country will work passionately and diligently to move this bill forward to passage,” said Diego M. Sanchez, Director of Advocacy, Policy, and Partnerships for PFLAG National, the first and largest organization for LGBTQ+ people, their parents and families, and allies.
  • “GLSEN is proud to support the LGBTQ Essential Data Act again this Congress. Data collection is imperative to ensuring that policies are implemented effectively and that programs are funded adequately to have an impact on the communities they are meant to serve; however, too often LGBTQ people are left out of critical data collection measures and subsequently left behind. Improving the CDC’s data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity, and providing the funds necessary to get that done, is a hugely important step,” said Brenda Baron, Director of Public Policy at GLSEN.

The LGBTQ Essential Data Act would authorize $25 million to fully fund the NVDRS, operated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While all 50 states now collect this data, 10 states face a 2-year backlog and have not yet released data on LGBT violence. The NVDRS aggregates data from a variety of local sources including death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, police reports, and crime labs, which is then used to inform policy and regulatory decisions aimed at responding to public health crises such as suicide and homicide at the local, federal, and state level.

The LGBTQ Essential Data Act was first introduced by Rep. Maloney in 2016, a month after the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney is the first openly gay member of Congress from New York. After 22 years together, he married his husband Randy Florke in June 2014 in Cold Spring, NY where they live with their three children. He is a co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.


The Trevor Project Applauds the Introduction of the “Every Child Deserves a Family Act”

Washington, DC — The “Every Child Deserves a Family Act” was introduced today with bipartisan support. This legislation would prohibit federally funded child welfare service providers from discriminating against children, families, and individuals based on religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status, and would protect LGBTQ youth in the child welfare system from the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy.

“Given the undeniable crisis in our foster care system today, where too many children age out without finding their forever home and LGBTQ youth are subject to harm from discrimination, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act is vital to the well-being of America’s most vulnerable youth,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people. “We are especially grateful that this legislation would protect LGBTQ youth in foster care from being subjected to attempts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through the pseudo-scientific practice of conversion therapy.”

The Trevor Project is a member of the Every Child Deserves a Family Coalition, led by the Family Equality Council. Learn more about the campaign supporting this legislation at www.everychilddeservesafamily.com.

Studies have shown LGBTQ foster youth suffer worse outcomes in foster care, including longer stays in residential group homes rather than with families, higher rates of multiple placements, homelessness, hospitalization for emotional or mental health reasons, and elevated rates of suicide attempts.

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team 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 trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


The Importance of Stories

By John Paul Brammer

Last week, it was announced that New York City will commemorate Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, two icons of the LGBTQ civil rights movement, with monuments. The proposed location will be just blocks away from the historic Stonewall Inn, the site of the uprising that shaped modern LGBTQ history as we know it.

New York City’s first lady, Chirlane McCray, told The New York Times that the monument will give a “name and a face” to the overlooked activists, noting that LGBTQ rights is often “portrayed very much as a white, gay, male movement.” Public acknowledgment of Johnson and Rivera “counters that trend of whitewashing the history,” she said.

This monument to our transgender leaders is important for many reasons. In a world where trans people of color and their contributions are all too often erased, celebrating Johnson and Rivera in this way provides a welcome reminder of the pivotal role trans people have played in creating a better world for our community. It also is a reminder that, beyond the LGBTQ community, our history matters, and we have always been a part of the American story.

What does this have to do with LGBTQ youth? Well, everything. Here at The Trevor Project, we hear from young people who express feelings of isolation, young people who may not know there are other people like them in the world, or that there are people out there who will accept them for who they are. When we tell the stories of our shared history, stories about the marginalized people who fought tooth and nail to get us where we are, we affirm the next generation of LGBTQ people. We let them know they have a past and a future.

History is a living document. In the grand scheme of things, the Stonewall Uprising wasn’t that long ago. This year, we commemorate its 50th anniversary. Many who were there are with us today. On the other hand, the systemic issues that led to the uprising still exist in the present: discrimination, rejection, and inequality all contribute to disproportionate struggles with mental health for LGBTQ youth today.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers, and up to 50 percent of all trans people have made a suicide attempt, many before the age of 25.

It’s clear there’s still a long way to go. With World Pride on the horizon, along with the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, we have much to reflect on. In that process, let’s remember the importance of stories, both from our past and from our present, from our iconic civil rights leaders to the LGBTQ youth who don’t feel safe enough to come out. When we tell our stories, and we are heard, we win.

The legacies of Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera have become bigger than two individuals. This monument will offer people, LGBTQ and not, both in the present and in the future, the opportunity to learn about who we are and where we come from. That’s worth celebrating.


Sen. Gillibrand’s Proposed Platform Includes Protecting LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

By John Paul Brammer

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (NY) unveiled her LGBTQ rights agenda on Saturday, which included a plan to ban conversion therapy nationwide. In the Medium post, Gillibrand said she would enact a ban “finally outlawing this despicable, torturous practice in the 32 states that have yet to do so.”

“The LGBTQ community is not a monolith with a finite set of needs, and equal rights and freedom from discrimination should be the bare minimum we accept,” Gillibrand wrote.

Conversion therapy refers to the dangerous and discredited practice of attempting to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of LGBTQ people. At The Trevor Project, the world’s largest organization dedicated to LGBTQ youth in crisis, we know all too well how rejection can negatively impact vulnerable young people.

“Ending the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy is vital to protect LGBTQ youth from the harms of this pseudo-scientific ‘therapy,’ which include dramatically increased risk of suicide attempt. The Trevor Project regularly hears from youth who have been subjected to conversion therapy on our crisis services,” said Casey Pick, Senior Fellow for Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project.

“Research from the UCLA Williams Institute found in 2018 that an estimated 20,000 LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy from a licensed health care professional before the age of 18,” Pick continued. “Legislation can reduce that number, saving youth from unnecessary trauma and ultimately saving lives.”

Statements like Gillibrand’s help bring national attention to the crucial issue of conversion therapy, which, as Gillibrand noted, is still a threat to minors in 32 states. Politicians from both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to protect LGBTQ youth and to affirm a future where they can be exactly who they are.


Nation’s First Openly Gay Governor Signs Landmark LGBTQ Legislation into Law for Colorado

Colorado Becomes 18th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Denver, CO — In a historic day for Colorado and the nation, Governor Jared Polis — the country’s first openly gay governor — signed HB19-1039: Jude’s Law and HB19-1129: Prohibit Conversion Therapy for A Minor. These two pieces of legislation are vital to the health and safety of LGBTQ youth in Colorado. Versions of these bills were first introduced in 2015, and previously failed to receive hearings. This year, both bills passed with bipartisan support in both chambers.

Sponsored by the LGBT Caucus co-chairs Representative Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Dominick Moreno, D-Commerce City, Jude’s Law will allow transgender Coloradans to more easily update the gender on their birth certificate, enabling them to have the identification documents that match who they are. Coloradans will be able to update their gender on their birth certificate to M, F, or X — without a surgery, a doctor’s note, or court order. This bill removes both the surgery requirement and court order requirement, allowing transgender people the ability to self-identify on their ID document. The bill removes the publication requirement for a name change in order to reflect one’s gender identity. A new birth certificate will be issued instead of an amended birth certificate when updating gender. Colorado is the third state in the country (including California and Oregon) to have non-binary gender options for both driver’s licenses and birth certificates.

Sponsored by Representatives Dafna Michaelson Jenet, D-Commerce City, and Daneya Esgar, D-Pueblo, and Senator Steve Fenberg, D-Boulder, HB19-1129 will ban a state-licensed mental health care provider from engaging in the discredited, harmful practice of conversion therapy on a patient under 18 years of age. Conversion therapy is the discredited and dangerous practice of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. A physician or mental health care provider who violates this provision engages in unprofessional conduct under the applicable professional licensing board. Colorado will be the 18th state in the country to protect minors from conversion therapy.

“This was a historic session for LGBTQ Coloradans and their families. With legislation that impacts youth, transgender, and non-binary Coloradans, One Colorado championed bills for some of the most vulnerable in our community to improve the everyday lives of LGBTQ Coloradans. The strong bipartisan support of both of these bills further demonstrates that LGBTQ equality should be a nonpartisan issue, and we applaud the Republicans who stood with our community. Colorado will continue to make history as our country’s first openly gay Governor, Jared Polis, signs our pro-equality agenda into law to send a strong message that Colorado is a state that is open to all,” said Daniel Ramos, Executive Director of One Colorado.

“The Trevor Project is proud to stand with One Colorado and all of the amazing lawmakers and advocates in the Centennial State as they become the 18th state in the country to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “Watching the first openly LGBTQ governor in the nation sign this legislation is an especially humbling moment. Trevor will continue working across the nation until this horrible practice is relegated to the dustbin of history.”

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent professional medical associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, One Colorado, and GLAD, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team 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 trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Advocate Julie Rodgers Shares Her Conversion Therapy Experience

By John Paul Brammer

“My mom made me quit softball so I wouldn’t be lesbian,” Julie Rodgers said over the phone. “You can kind of tell at a young age if a kid is some version of queer, and she was very concerned about gays and lesbians. Especially lesbian softball coaches in sweater vests.”

Julie is from a small town called Tomball just outside of Houston, Texas. She knew she was gay when she was 12, she said, something she figured her mother wouldn’t approve of. Julie was homeschooled until high school to keep her away from “the gays and evolution.” When she finally did come out to her mother on Valentine’s Day during her junior year, she said her mother broke down in tears.

“She told me, ‘We’re going to get through this together,’” Julie said. “The next week, she pulled me out of school early and said she had made an appointment with someone who could ‘help me.’”

That person was an executive director of an organization under the umbrella of Exodus International, a group that sought to subject LGBTQ people to conversion therapy, a dangerous and discredited practice that claims to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity through a variety of means.

The organization met at a church in Arlington, TX. There were around 150 people in the room when she arrived, Julie said, along with comfortable chairs and a white board. She met the executive director, who gave talks about the Bible and divided the group into men and women.

He told the two groups to review each other’s sexual activity that week with a rating scale of one to ten in an effort to hold each other accountable. “Ten was sex, six was watching porn, and masturbating was a three,” Julie said. “They would start with the highest numbers, and the leaders would try to help you find the root cause,” which stems from the discredited notion that a person’s life experiences or family history can somehow be the reason for someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

Contact beyond the parameters of the meetings was forbidden. “We weren’t allowed to share our last names or contacts because they were worried we’d hook up,” Julie said. “There was major policing if there was contact outside the group, and you were supposed to report people who tried to.”

Previously at school, there were coaches and teachers Julie had come out to before going through conversion therapy, she said. These people had accepted her, particularly the assistant principal. But in her time with the conversion therapy organization, she said the executive director tried to blame the supportive, affirming assistant principal as the reason that Julie was in conversion therapy.

“They told me she targeted me and recruited me and that I wouldn’t be gay if it weren’t for her influence,” Julie said. “They were interpreting the data from my life that way, and that’s what they saw. They couldn’t see the compassion.”

According to studies by the UCLA Williams Institute, nearly 700,000 LGBTQ people have been subjected to the horrors of conversion therapy, and an estimated 57,000 LGBTQ youth will experience this unprofessional conduct in coming years, often at the insistence of well-intentioned but misinformed parents or caretakers.

The American Psychiatric Association has clarified that “the potential risks of reparative therapy are great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior, since therapist alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce self-hatred already experienced by the patient.” The Pan American Health Organization, a regional office of the World Health Organization, concluded that conversion therapy, “lack[s] medical justification and represent[s] a serious threat to the health and well-being of affected people.”

The Trevor Project is committed to working to end conversion therapy on minors through legislation, litigation and public education. It partners with mental health associations, youth organizations, LGBTQ groups, student clubs, faith communities and educational institutions in every state to promote the submission and passage of meaningful legislation.

Julie, who was involved with the conversion therapy organization for almost ten years, knows that for many people, efforts to change their sexual orientation or gender identity come from religious community figures rather than, or in addition to, licensed professionals. Despite this, she said she’s still a Christian, and she’s made it her work to reach out to LGBTQ young people of faith to let them know there’s nothing wrong with them.

She’s still waiting for her mom to come around, but she said her dad is in her life, and that she even took her wife to meet her 93-year-old grandmother, who was delighted. Just as important to Julie is her LGBTQ chosen family, people she knows she can rely on. She hopes to make sure LGBTQ youth feel they have someone looking out for them, too.

“I want all queer young people in faith communities to know they don’t have to choose between their faith and sexuality,” she said. “God delights in them exactly the way they are and there are tons of Christians who enthusiastically welcome queer people in their churches. I want them to know they’re not alone. They’re not a mistake. They’re a gift to this world.”


Maine Becomes 17th State to Protect LGBTQ Youth from Conversion Therapy

Augusta, ME — This morning Governor Janet Mills signed HP755, a bill to protect LGBTQ youth in Maine from the dangers of conversion therapy. The bill passed by an overwhelming majority for the second year in a row after Governor LePage vetoed the legislation last year. The Trevor Project and our allies applaud Governor Mills and the bipartisan coalition of lawmakers who took a stand to protect young Mainers from this discredited practice.

“The legislature and Gov. Mills are sending a clear and meaningful message to our LGBTQ young people. You matter. You belong. And you are loved for who you are,” said Representative Ryan Fecteau, the prime sponsor of the bill. “Conversion therapy is irresponsible and harmful. I am so proud that Maine is standing tall to affirm that no young person needs to ‘fix’ what is not broken.”

“With this signature, Maine has become a safer and more welcoming place for LGBTQ youth, who will never again need fear being sent to a licensed professional for the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy,” said Matt Moonen, Executive Director of EqualityMaine. “We are grateful that Governor Mills, along with legislators in the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle, were able to come together to act to protect Maine’s youth.”

“The Trevor Project applauds the hard work of Representative Fecteau, EqualityMaine, and all of the advocates and lawmakers in Maine for their perseverance,” said Sam Brinton, Head of Advocacy and Government Affairs for The Trevor Project. “After the disappointment of last year’s veto, they came back stronger and passed legislation to protect LGBTQ youth from the dangers of conversion therapy. We will continue to push each and every day to insure that every state in the country follows Maine’s example and ends this cruel practice once and for all.”

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, is invested in ending conversion therapy in every state. A 2018 study found that the rate of attempted suicide by LGBTQ youth whose parents tried to change their sexual orientation was more than double the rate of LGBTQ youth who reported no such attempts. For LGBTQ young people who reported both home-based efforts to change their sexual orientation by parents and efforts by therapists or religious leaders, the rate was three times higher.

Conversion therapy is widely opposed by prominent professional medical associations including the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

The Trevor Project’s 50 Bills 50 States campaign has partnered with the Human Rights Campaign, National Center for Lesbian Rights, EqualityMaine, and GLAD, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections. People can sign up to join The Trevor Project’s effort to end conversion therapy by texting “TREVOR” to 40649.

Learn more about reporting on conversion therapy.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also operates an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, an advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and a research team 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 trained crisis counselors are available 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 via chat www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting START to 678678.

MEDIA CONTACT

Kevin Wong
The Trevor Project
646.576.7044
[email protected]


Boyertown Decision is Good News for Transgender Youth

By John Paul Brammer

The Supreme Court declined to hear Doe v. Boyertown Area School District today, thus allowing transgender students to continue using restrooms that match their gender identity in schools that have policies protecting that right. It’s good news for trans youth everywhere who deserve to know that they are just as valid and worthy of respect as their cisgender peers.

The Boyertown Area School District first allowed trans students to use the restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender in 2016, but Boyertown was sued by a group represented by the anti-LGBT legal organization, Alliance Defending Freedom, for the affirming policy. ADF argued that the presence of trans students in these spaces was tantamount to sexual harassment.

This kind of attitude contributes to the stigma and discrimination trans students face across the nation. We at The Trevor Project know that trans youth face significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers, with trans youth being roughly four times as likely to report feeling unsafe going to school within a 30-day period. The Court saw fit to let these policies, which are life-saving for vulnerable young people, stand.

The Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the notion that trans students threaten anyone with their mere presence in restrooms and locker rooms and noted that trans students being forced to use separate facilities would “publicly brand all transgender students with a scarlet ‘T,’ and they should not have to endure that as the price of attending their public school.”

This case demonstrates the power of LGBTQ youth. It was a coalition of LGBTQ youth leaders and organizations that intervened and made a passionate case to defend the trans students in Boyertown. At The Trevor Project, we see just how resilient LGBTQ youth are in the face of obstacles, and this is yet another reminder of the strength and fortitude our young people have when one group is being targeted.

Ria Tabacco Mar, a senior staff attorney at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, spoke about the meaning of the decision and why it’s worth applauding: “This is an enormous victory for transgender students across the country. Boyertown’s schools chose to be inclusive and welcoming of transgender students in 2016, a decision the courts have affirmed again and again. This lawsuit sought to reverse that hard-won progress by excluding transgender students from school facilities that other students use. That would have increased the stigma and discrimination that transgender students already face.”

Trans students of Boyertown, past and present, are also speaking on the decision. “By the time I graduated high school, I was using the boys’ bathroom and participating on the boys’ cross country team,” Boyertown alum Aidan DeStefano said in a statement. “I’m glad the Supreme Court is allowing schools like mine to continue supporting transgender students.”

At The Trevor Project, we know that trans youth are at increased risk for suicide attempts and and feelings of isolation not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because of the systemic discrimination they face. Any step toward a future where trans youth will feel more welcome and free to be themselves, no matter how small, is worth pointing out and holding up as an example. We hope you will join us in that mission.