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


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.


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


Trevor Project joins 251 Civil Rights Orgs in Opposing DeVos as Ed Sec

January 30, 2017

Oppose Confirmation of Betsy DeVos for Secretary of Education

Dear Senator,

On behalf of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and the 251 organizations listed below, we urge you to oppose the confirmation of Betsy DeVos to be the next U.S. Secretary of Education. All parents and students in this country – a majority of whom are of color or are low-incomei – want the best education, support and dignity for their own children. We stand with them and cannot support a nominee who has demonstrated that she seeks to undermine bedrock American principles of equal opportunity, nondiscrimination and public education itself.

The Secretary of Education’s role as an enforcer of education and civil rights lawsii is central to advancing our shared vision of an inclusive and diverse system of high-quality public education that enables every student to live up to their potential. DeVos has demonstrated no previous commitment to ensuring equal educational opportunity in schools. Moreover, in her hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on January 17, 2017, she failed to demonstrate that she is capable of and committed to enforcing the law – as is required of the agency’s chief executive.

Betsy DeVos’ deference to state flexibility, even with regard to compliance with federal civil rights laws such as the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); her claim that demonstrating support for Title IX enforcement guidance would be “premature;” and her lack of support for accountability for all schools receiving federal funds only serve to reinforce our conclusion that her inadequate previous experience and missing record of support for students’ civil rights make her unfit to serve as Secretary of Education.

When compared with Secretaries of Education throughout the history of the department, DeVos’ lack of experience stands out. She has never been an educator or worked directly with children and families in public schools. She has never led a school, district or state agency tasked with educating students. She has never been a public school parent or a public school student. This lack of experience makes her uniquely unfamiliar with the challenges and opportunities facing the nation’s students, families, educators and schools.

The U.S. Department of Education is responsible for implementing and enforcing laws protecting students from discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and disability and those laws that provide for educational opportunity from early childhood through graduate school. The person responsible for leading that department must absolutely be committed to enforcing federal laws on behalf of every single student in this country – without regard to LGBTQI status, family income, race, ethnicity, home language, gender, religion, disability or immigration status. Our nation’s Constitution, economy, future and children deserve no less.

Sincerely,

The Trevor Project

For the full letter and 250 other organizations, visit: http://www.civilrights.org/advocacy/letters/2017/oppose-confirmation-of-betsy.html


Tom Price Is Harmful to the Mental Health of LGBTQ Youth

January 30, 2017 For Immediate Release

It’s time we talk about the serious danger posed to the mental health of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community if Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) is confirmed as secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Price’s beliefs and actions are being appropriately scrutinized by the media and through congressional hearings, but little attention has been paid to the impact his confirmation will have on the mental health of the general population, let alone of vulnerable populations like LGBTQ youth.  Price’s record as a seven term congressman provides a wealth of insight into his personal views and policy positions. Unfortunately, it’s a record of discrimination and hate which can have very real impacts on a young person’s mental health.

LGBTQ youth face significant challenges today, whether they’re struggling with coming out, facing family rejection, or dealing with bullying. If Tom Price becomes head of HHS and is allowed to put his beliefs into practice, dire consequences will follow. Price is a supporter of the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA), which, despite its lofty sounding name, actually allows businesses and individuals to discriminate against sexual orientation and gender identity minorities. It’s no secret that he is also a vitriolic critic of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But repealing the ACA, which contains nondiscrimination protections, could decimate the LGBTQ community’s access to psychological services that play a critical role in achieving and maintaining positive mental health.

Picture a bisexual young person going to counseling for an issue unrelated to her sexual orientation only to be told that the counselor doesn’t treat LGBTQ people. Picture a transgender female teenager that needs to be admitted to a psychiatric facility for a suicide attempt but the facility says they will only allow her to be admitted to the male program.

In reviewing past legislation Price proposed as an alternative to the ACA, many concerns were revealed. Under Price’s ACA replacement plan, young adults who were previously covered under their parent’s health insurance may lose access to covered healthcare and part-time workers would lose the ability to purchase affordable healthcare for themselves. Perhaps worst of all, however, is that bans on “pre-existing conditions” could become legal again, except in limited circumstances, and youth with illnesses like depression or anxiety would not be able to get insurance coverage for those conditions. People who are HIV-positive might not have access to covered care and life-saving prescription medications, which can not only have a devastatingly negative impact on their physical health, but their mental health as well.

As if that isn’t enough to send mental health spiraling downward, Price’s record on LGBTQ issues indicates that conditions will rapidly deteriorate under his direction. He voted against the Violence Against Women Act because it contained nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. He voted against ending employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. He’s also publicly balked at the idea that schools should be required to allow students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. These are the ideals that will pervade HHS under his leadership.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) is the HHS agency that administers grants to states and educational institutions to provide mental health services to youth. Under the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act, SAMHSA gives colleges money to provide services to prevent suicide.  Many grantees use that money to provide LGBTQ specific suicide prevention programming because of the community’s disproportionate risk of suicide. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth attempt suicide at more than four times the rate of their heterosexual peers, while 40% of transgender individuals report having attempted suicide at some point in their lifetime.  With Price as HHS director, it’s not hard to imagine that specialized services for LGBTQ youth experiencing suicidal ideation could be taken away.

Finally, Price also voted against the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which added sexual orientation and gender identity to our federal hate crimes statute. This “no” vote flies in the face of facts which reveal that LGBTQ people are more likely than any other group to be the victims of hate crimes. Add that to the knowledge that every act of victimization increases an LGBTQ youth’s risk of suicide and the insight into the threat to their mental health under Price becomes too painful to contemplate.

The Trevor Project is the nation’s leading crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization focused on LGBTQ youth. Immediately after the election, the organization experienced the highest call volume it’s ever received in a single day in the history of the organization. LGBTQ youth were overwhelmed and frightened of the possible increase in discrimination, violence, and hate they might face under this new administration. Those issues alone are difficult enough to navigate without adding the risks that Price’s confirmation will have on their mental health. This cost to a young person’s mental health is simply a price we cannot afford.  Contact your senators today and tell them to oppose Price’s nomination as secretary of HHS.

The Trevor Project Vice President of Programs, David W. Bond, LCSW, B.C.E.T.S., is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Board Certified Expert in Traumatic Stress.

Contact: The Trevor Project Marketing & Communications Department: 310.271.8845 x402

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT:
The Trevor Project is the only national organization focused on crisis intervention and suicide prevention efforts among LGBTQ youth. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential crisis intervention lifeline, text, and chat services.  We work to help alleviate the causes of the need of crisis services via our educational materials, online resources, research, and advocacy programs. We also offer a peer-to-peer support network for LGBTQ youth under the age of 25 via our TrevorSpace site. For more information, visit www.TheTrevorProject.org.


A Letter to LGBTQ Youth on Inauguration Day

Hi, I’m Raymond Braun and I wanted to share a message with any LGBTQ+ youth who are feeling upset today. Today is a challenging and difficult day for so many of us. You may be confronting a mixture of emotions and feelings you’re not quite sure how to process. That’s normal.

First, please take care of yourself, today and every day. Learn what “self care” means to you. Identity activities and people who make you happy, and try to spend as much time as possible doing things that bring you fulfillment and joy. Remember that it’s OK to turn off the TV, log off social media, and disengage from the news when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

As we enter a new era in politics, I want to make sure you know that you belong, your identity is valid, and your feelings, thoughts, and ideas are worthwhile. You might see scary headlines about anti-LGBTQ politicians or policy proposals, you might encounter nasty comments on social media, and you might experience bullying and discrimination that you certainly don’t deserve. Please don’t let these awful things diminish your shine and spirit. As MLK said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” In the wake of the election, there’s been such an outpouring of love, support, passion, and action from our community. There is so much good out there, and we will continue advocating for your right to be exactly who you are. You deserve that, and so much more, and we have your back.

You are part of one of the most diverse, creative, compassionate, resilient communities in the world. Think about the history of the LGBTQ community. We have overcome many obstacles and setbacks throughout history, and we’ve always emerged stronger and more unified than ever before.

I might not know you personally, but I am rooting for you. Our community needs you to nurture your talent, develop your skills, and identify your passions. Please find the hope inside yourself to continue growing into the amazing human being that you are. As you’re encountering all of life’s challenges, know that you’re not alone, and that there are resources for you and people who care deeply about you. Of course, the Trevor Project is available to talk 24/7 at 866.488.7386, and you can reach out through their digital services like TrevorChat and TrevorSpace as well. Reach out if you’re ever feeling distressed or need a listening ear – whether it’s a phone call or text to Trevor, a coffee chat with a trusted loved one, or a visit to one of your local community resource centers.

You are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every opportunity in the world. I’m sending you a big hug, and when I march in the #WomensMarch tomorrow, I’m doing it for you.


A Message from Abbe Land: Looking Back Over the Past Five Years

Dear Friends,

As we approach the 2016 holidays, and we get ready for the new year and a change in our political landscape, I want to let you know that I too am getting ready for a big change.  After nearly 5 years as the Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project, I will be leaving this amazing organization at the end of the year.

And, as difficult as it is for me to move on, I am proud of the many accomplishments at The Trevor Project in the years that I have been here.  For example:

  • We have expanded the budget over 100% and significantly expanded the staff and volunteer pool
  • We launched the organization’s first research and evaluation project, which has quantitatively proven that Trevor is effective at saving young lives
  • We added an Advisory Board of experts to help inform the our programs
  • We added Trevor’s digital programs, Chat and Text, to meet youth where they are
  • We built a new platform for TrevorSpace to help prevent suicide among youth around the world
  • We expanded Trevor’s public policy work and successfully sponsored legislation in CA and Washington, DC
  • We helped make Trevor the go-to place for anyone discussing LGBTQ youth and suicide

Being part of the Trevor family has been one of the most important parts of my life.  I am constantly in awe of the amazing, dedicated staff, volunteers and supporters who keep the organization strong every single day.

This year has been extraordinary, there have been some real highs, and some awful lows, that will impact us for a long time.  But through it all, Trevor has been there saving young LGBTQ lives.  And Trevor will continue to be there – thanks to all of you.

But most importantly, I know first-hand that the organization will continue to thrive.  And that’s because of its current leadership which includes a strong board of directors, led by co-chairs Stacy Smithers and Michael Norton, Steve Mendelsohn, our deputy executive director who will become the Interim Executive Director, and the incredibly talented leadership team of Jeremy Ancalade, David Bond, Jack McCurley and our newest addition, Sheri Lunn.

Though I will no longer be running the organization day in and day out, this is not really a good-bye.  That’s because I intend to remain part of the Trevor family – as a volunteer, as a supporter, and as a friend.  No matter what, I will always be here for Trevor and for all of you!

Truly,

Abbe Land
Executive Director and CEO
The Trevor Project