Advocacy Updates: Our Continued Fight For Mental Health Reform

With so much going on in the world, from the 2016 election to tragic violence, now is the time to show LGBTQ youth that we are fighting for their well-being and a brighter future for all. We have to become a part of the solution, whether that means taking action in the LGBTQ community, calling local politicians, or having discussions about the issues that matter. Here are some examples of how The Trevor Project has been taking action for LGBTQ youth through our Advocacy department.

Fighting Against Conversion Therapy
Support of “conversion therapy” is being included in a major political party platform, yet it has been denounced by every major medical association in the United States as a dangerous and discredited practice that can put more young lives at risk of suicide. The Trevor Project took action in July by speaking against it in an op-ed for The Advocate. We also wrote a letter to Councilmember M. Lorena González, urging her to pass CB 118746, which has since passed and will now ban conversion therapy in Seattle. The Trevor Project has helped pass similar laws in California, Illinois, New Jersey, Oregon, and the District of Columbia, and we will continue the fight to ban this harmful practice across the nation.

Helping Reauthorize the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act
In July, the United States House of Representatives voted to pass the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced and spearheaded by Representative Tim Murphy as a comprehensive mental health reform bill that among other things, reauthorizes many important and effective mental health programs, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. GLSMA provides grants to states, tribes and tribal organizations, and colleges to prevent youth suicide, and also funds a national suicide prevention technical assistance center.

“The reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is one of Trevor’s key legislative priorities. Every 95 minutes a young person takes their life by suicide. We now urge the Senate to take this bill up so needed resources can continue to save young lives,” says Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

New CDC Study Inspires Trevor’s Model School Policy Advocacy

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released their 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS) study, which displays the first body of knowledge that depicts a nationally representative sample of lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students. It is disheartening to note in CDC’s study that in the last year, 43% of LGB students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide, 38.2% made a suicide plan, and roughly 30% attempted suicide.

With the rate of LGB suicide attempts severe enough to require medical attention being almost five times higher than that of straight students, you can take part in improving the lives of 1.3 million high school students who report being LGB:

  • Connect youth to Trevor’s crisis services. We save young lives 24/7 at 866-488-7386. TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm Eastern Time and 12-6 pm Pacific Time daily, and youth can text “Trevor” to 202-304-1200 Thurs-Friday 4-8 pm Eastern Time and 1-5 pm Pacific Time. Young people can also find friends on our online safe supportive community TrevorSpace.org as well as resources at our Support Center.
  • Create classrooms of peers who are better equipped to help through Lifeguard, Trevor’s free online suicide prevention and crisis intervention education program for middle and high school students.
  • Advocate for the adoption of comprehensive, inclusive suicide prevention policies in school districts around the country with our Model School Policy, which can help school districts draft suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs.

You can learn more in Abbe Land’s op-ed in The Advocate.

To help continue our fight to make change across the nation, please visit our Advocacy page and become a part of taking action for LGBTQ youth on state and federal levels.


CDC’s 2015 YRBS Displays Significant Data on LGB Youth Suicide

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention just released the results of the Youth Risk Behavior Study (YRBS) that measures results among lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students. This survey measures a variety of risks ranging from substance use to seat belt utilization. Most importantly for The Trevor Project, the YRBS also identifies the prevalence of suicidal thoughts, plans, behaviors and attempts.

While the YRBS has previously taken some measurement of the risk behaviors of LGB youth in a few states and large cities, the 2015 data released today is unique because it is the first body of knowledge on this topic that depicts a nationally representative sample of LGB youth. Although it is progress that some sexualities have been included in this study, we recognize that the wide spectrum of sexualities and gender identities have yet to be studied. More data needs to be collected on transgender youth, as nearly half of young transgender people have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter report having made a suicide attempt.

It is devastating to note in CDC’s study that in the last year, 43% of LGB students in grades 9-12 seriously considered suicide, 38% made a suicide plan, and nearly 30% attempted suicide. The CDC has further identified that LGB students are more than four times more likely than their straight peers to have a suicide attempt severe enough to require medical attention. This 2015 study shows that lesbian, gay and bisexual students are as much as three times more likely to experience physical and sexual dating violence than their heterosexual peers. As the only national accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention service for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project knows that when combined with other risk factors and a lack of support, such violence can put young people at high risk for suicide. These rates are significantly higher than those of heterosexual students, demonstrating the increased attention that needs to focus on these vulnerable populations.

While incredibly informative about prevalence, the YRBS does not report on causes of these challenges. There are certainly many contributing factors to consider, but it is also very important to note what can be done to foster resilience and safety for LGB youth. Families, schools, and communities must come together to reduce the risk for LGBTQ youth suicide by creating safe environments, helping youth connect to family, peers, and other caring adults who can provide support and links to services.

You can take part in improving the lives of 1.3 million high school students who report being LGBTQ by showing them that you care about their mental health:

  • Connect youth to Trevor’s crisis services. We save young lives 24/7 at 866-488-7386. TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm Eastern Time and 12-6 pm Pacific Time daily, and youth can text “Trevor” to 202-304-1200 Thurs-Friday 4-8 pm Eastern Time and 1-5 pm Pacific Time. Young people can also find friends on our online safe supportive community TrevorSpace.org as well as resources at our Support Center.
  • Create classrooms of peers who are better equipped to help through Lifeguard, Trevor’s free online suicide prevention and crisis intervention education program for middle and high school students.
  • Advocate for the adoption of comprehensive, inclusive suicide prevention policies in school districts around the country with our Model School Policy, which can help school districts draft suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs.

Help create a brighter future for LGBTQ youth by showing them that despite discrimination, violence, and victimization, LGBTQ youth can thrive, they matter, and they deserve support. The Trevor Project is actively working with the Federal Government through our Government Affairs team to find ways to include the wide spectrum of sexualities and gender identities in future surveys. You can take action through our Advocacy Page and share our resources at thetrevorproject.org.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


Conversion Therapy Support Should Be Excluded From All Party Platforms

July 11, 2016, Washington, DC – “Conversion therapy” is a dangerous and discredited practice denounced by every major medical association in the United States and support for it must not be included in any major political party platform.  More commonly known as “pray away the gay,” this approach attempts to change an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity often through activities that equate to physical and psychological abuse and torture. Research has unequivocally shown that conversion therapy does not work and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has issued calls for its end.

“A preponderance of evidence shows that conversion therapy poses real health risks to LGBTQ youth including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, risky behavior, and suicidal ideation. We urge all participants involved in deciding party platforms to use science to drive decision-making.  And to ensure no platform policy is designed to hurt, discriminate, or take away basic liberties and freedoms for LGBT people,” says Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in the United States between the ages of 13 to 24, and LGB youth are more four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Families that reject their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity often send their child to undergo conversion therapy.  Research has shown that youth from highly rejecting families are more than eight times as likely to attempt suicide.  It is incumbent upon our nation’s leaders and political parties to adopt platforms that are rooted in scientific research and do not put more young lives at risk of suicide.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT:
The Trevor Project is the leading 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 lifeline, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.TheTrevorProject.org.

 

(Image via forcechange.com)


Bill to Prevent LGBTQ Youth Suicide Advances in the United States Congress

July 7, 2016, Washington, DC – Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth in the United States between the ages of 13 to 24. Lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers, and nearly half of all transgender individuals report attempting suicide at some point in their lives.

The United States House of Representatives voted today to pass a bill that includes measures to halt and reverse these shocking statistics. The Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (H.R. 2646), introduced and spearheaded by Representative Tim Murphy is a comprehensive mental health reform bill that among other things, reauthorizes many important and effective mental health programs, including the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act.

“The reauthorization of the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is one of Trevor’s key legislative priorities this year.  Every 95 minutes a young person takes their life by suicide.  We now urge the Senate to take this bill up so needed resources can continue to save young lives,” says Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project.

Initially created and named after former Senator Gordon Smith’s son, Garrett, who died by suicide in 2003, the program provides grants to states, tribes and tribal organizations, and colleges to prevent youth suicide, and also funds a national suicide prevention technical assistance center.  To date all 50 states, 48 tribes and over 175 colleges have received funds to prevent youth suicide, including many grantees that have chosen interventions to specifically address LGBTQ youth suicide.

The Garrett Lee Smith (GLS) program has strong bipartisan support and has been shown to be effective. A recent evaluation showed decreases in suicide rates for states that had GLS funds, yet when programs were ended, suicide rates increased. This points to the vital need to sustain resources to ensure our nation’s LGBTQ youth have help and hope available.

We applaud the House of Representatives for passing this important mental health bill.  We now immediately call for the Senate leadership to schedule a vote on the Mental Health Reform Act (S.2680), a similar bill that also includes a provision to reauthorize the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. Both chambers of Congress must pass these measures to ensure an uninterrupted system of support for youth to prevent this major public health problem.

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT:
The Trevor Project is the leading 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 lifeline, educational materials, online resources, and advocacy. For more information, visit www.TheTrevorProject.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Amy Loudermilk, Assoc. Director of Government Affairs
[email protected]
202-974-5952


LGBTQ Advocacy: Fighting For LGBTQ Youth Across The Nation

Despite the adversity we’ve faced, in the last two months, we’ve seen a lot of change and progress for the LGBTQ community, including the Pentagon repealing its ban on transgender people serving in the military and two transgender women winning their primaries in Utah and Colorado. From a youth suicide prevention bill clearing the California Assembly to the Obama Administration issuing a guidance protecting transgender public students nationwide, we are paving the way for a brighter future for LGBTQ youth. Learn more about how we’re continuing the fight for equality here.

Trevor Calls for Stricter Gun Control Legislation

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, access to firearms enabled 2,444 young people ages 10-24 to take their own lives. This accounted for 44 percent of all suicide deaths for that age range in the US. We are standing up against gun violence with over 30 organizations in LGBTQ and gun control movements. On June 29, we participated in a National Day of Action for stricter gun control legislation roundtable hosted by Los Angeles Congress members Lucille Roybal-Allard, Karen Bass, Judy Chu, Xavier Becerra, and Maxine Waters. Learn more here and see our most recent post about our need to keep fighting for youth in The Advocate.

Youth Suicide Prevention Bill Clears California Assembly

On June 1, 2016, California approved AB 2246, a bill that would require the adoption of comprehensive suicide prevention plans by local California school districts with students in grades 7-12. Co-authored with Equality California, The Trevor Project, and Assembly member Patrick O’Donnell, AB 2246 now has to move to the Senate for approval. Learn more in The Advocate from our Associate Director of Government Affairs, Amy Loudermilk, about how we helped pass a similar bill in Washington D.C.

 

Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land visited The White House Summit to speak about the needs of African American LGBTQ youth. Discussions addressed the importance of creating safe spaces on the internet and in schools, as well as the health and income disparities that impact  African American LGBTQ youth. Abbe discussed our free online Lifeguard program, which teaches suicide prevention and crisis intervention to youth-serving professionals, and the importance of addressing intersectionality when creating programs and addressing needs. Since this talk, Trevor has participated in Twitter advocacy chats regarding LGBTQ data inclusion in government surveys, transgender health, intersectionality and social activism. Follow along in these important conversations on Twitter.

For advocacy updates, sign up for our Advocacy Network so we can alert you when you need to take action.


The Trevor Project Calls For Stricter Gun Control Legislation

The Trevor Project joins many of our colleagues in LGBTQ and gun violence prevention movements to call for stricter gun control legislation.

In the days immediately following the shooting in Orlando, contacts to our crisis services reached our highest levels this year.  Furthermore, many young people are expressing fear, confusion and heightened anxiety, and are telling us that they are afraid to be who they truly are.

As the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth up to age 24, we know the impacts of gun violence all too well. We’ve seen the loss of lives due to mass shootings—in addition to the loss of youth who used a gun to end their lives.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2014, access to firearms enabled 2,444 young people ages 10-24 to take their own lives.  This accounts for 44 percent of all suicide deaths for that age range in the US. Something must be done.

There must be an adoption of strong laws that 1) ban the sale of semiautomatic firearms, including handguns, rifles, and assault weapons; 2) support background checks for all gun sales, as well as training on gun safety; and 3) have safe storage of guns in the home. These are sensible approaches to reducing gun violence and ensuring a safer future for all.

Our youth need The Trevor Project to be a champion in the fight to restrict access to guns in this country. We will demand that our leaders take action, and we ask that you join us in this fight.

  • Please sign up for our Advocacy Network so we can alert you when you need to take action.
  • Please donate so we can ensure we are there to advocate and answer the calls from our youth when they are concerned for their own safety and well-being.

The Trevor Project is committed to ensuring our youth know they are not alone and that we are here for them, 24/7, fighting for their future.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


Youth Suicide Prevention Bill Clears California Assembly

On June 1, 2016, The California Assembly approved a bill that would require the adoption of comprehensive suicide prevention plans by local California school districts with students attending grades 7-12.  Assembly Bill (AB) 2246 was authored by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell and sponsored by Equality California and The Trevor Project.

“AB 2246 will protect every student in California, especially our vulnerable LGBTQ youth who attempt suicide at significantly higher rates,” said Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “With parents and schools partnering together, we can prevent the tragic loss of many young lives.”

Current California Education Code encourages schools to adopt suicide prevention policies, but does not require them. Under AB 2246, new policies must address, at a minimum, guidelines for suicide prevention, intervention, and follow-up. To assist local educational agencies in developing policies for student suicide prevention, the Department of Education would be required to develop and maintain a model policy to serve as a guide for school districts, possibly based on one already developed by The Trevor Project.

“The vote in the Assembly is a key step in passing legislation that is an integral part of The Trevor Project’s fight to end suicide for all LGBTQ youth, which will serve as a model for the rest of the country,” said Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project. “Young people often don’t know where to turn when they are dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts. With AB 2246, students will be able to walk into a classroom knowing that they can talk to a teacher or school employee and that person can direct them to lifesaving resources like The Trevor Project.”

Over 17 percent of youth turning to The Trevor Project’s lifesaving resources are from California.  According to the CDC, 17 percent of students in grades 9-12 report having seriously considered suicide, and eight percent report having attempted suicide one or more times in the past 12 months.

“LGB teens attempt suicide at rates up to three times higher than their straight peers and more than a quarter of trans youth have reported making a suicide attempt,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “California’s teachers are dedicated to creating safe, supportive learning environments. This bill will help give them the tools and training they need to protect LGBT and all at-risk children.”

AB 2246 now moves to the California Senate for approval.

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Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the only national accredited organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people ages 13-24. Every day, The Trevor Project saves young lives through its free and confidential accredited phone, instant message, and text messaging crisis intervention services. A leader and innovator in suicide prevention, The Trevor Project offers the largest safe social networking community for LGBTQ youth, best practice suicide prevention educational trainings, resources for youth and adults, and advocacy initiatives. For more info, visit TheTrevorProject.org.

Equality California is the nation’s largest statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization dedicated to creating a fair and just society. The mission of EQCA is to achieve and maintain full and lasting equality, acceptance and social justice for all people in our diverse LGBT communities, inside and outside of California. EQCA is also dedicated to advancing the health and well-being of LGBT Californians through direct healthcare service advocacy and education. Through electoral, advocacy, education and mobilization programs, EQCA strives to create a broad and diverse alliance of LGBT people, educators, government officials, communities of color and faith, labor, business, and social justice communities to achieve the organization’s goals. For more info, visit www.eqca.org.

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell represents the 70th Assembly District, which includes Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro and Catalina Island.

CONTACTS:
Jason Howe, Communications Director, Equality California: PHONE: 323-848-9801 MOBILE: 415-595-9245 EMAIL: [email protected]

Shawn Steiner, Communications Director, The Trevor Project: PHONE: 917-497-3037 EMAIL: [email protected]


Vermont Bans Conversion Therapy

As the leading national suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit organization, The Trevor Project is on the forefront of fighting against “conversion therapy” and commends Governor Peter Shumlin and the Vermont State Legislature for passing Senate Bill 132. This bill, in effect July 1, 2016, protects Vermont LGBTQ youth from mental healthcare providers attempting to change their sexual orientation or gender identity through practices which treat substance abuse, extreme depression, and suicide. Passed just a month after Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed Senate Bill 1556, which allowed mental healthcare providers to deny treatment to LGBTQ people, Senate Bill 132 justly prioritizes the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ youth.

While The Trevor Project fights to save young lives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we know that over 41% of trans people have reportedly attempted suicide, and LGB youth are four times as likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Conversion efforts pose critical health risks to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, including depression, shame, decreased self-esteem, social withdrawal, substance abuse, risky behavior, and suicidality. There is no credible evidence that conversion therapy can change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and in fact, this heinous practice has been condemned by The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Thankfully, Vermont youth can now confidently walk into mental healthcare providers’ offices knowing that they will not be subjected to conversion therapy.. The Trevor Project continues to work closely with other policy makers and organizations around the nation to provide information about the detrimental effects of conversation therapy on LGBTQ youth. For more information, visit thetrevorproject.org.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

Image via news10.com


Obama Administration Issues Guidance Protecting Transgender Students Nationwide

We at The Trevor Project commend the Obama administration for their issued guidance directing all public schools nationwide to allow transgender students to use bathrooms, locker rooms, and other sex-segregated facilities matching their gender identity. At a time when 50 percent of transgender youth have thought about suicide and a quarter who have made a suicide attempt, this guidance shows how Title IX, the anti-discrimination law in education, should protect transgender youth in school systems and ensure an environment free from harassment and discrimination.  As the only national accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization, The Trevor Project hears from transgender students who are constantly facing violence and harassment, fighting to justify their authentic selves to their parents, classmates, teachers, and the public at large. With this guidance, transgender students will now be able to use facilities that match their gender identities, protected from harassment, addressed by the pronouns with which they identify.

While it may take time for schools to fully comply to this guidance, The Trevor Project has free online education resources that can help educate parents, students, and teachers at thetrevorproject.org/Lifeguard. We are here to help not only those in crisis, but also those who are fighting to prevent crisis—those who believe in our mission to end suicide for all LGBTQ youth. The fight is not over until a guidance like this is issued for all sex-segregated facilities outside school systems, but this is certainly a huge victory for the community, especially for the young people we serve 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


D.C. Signs First Law in the Nation to Require a School Suicide Policy To Address LGBTQ Youth Needs

Colorful lockers

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, Washington, D.C. Councilmember David Grosso worked with The Trevor Project, The D.C. Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and others to pass bill 21-361, the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Amendment Act 23 of 2015.  The bill was passed unanimously by the D.C. Council on April 5, 2016 and was signed by Mayor Muriel Bowser on April 27, 2016 as the first law in the nation to require a school suicide policy to address the needs of LGBTQ youth.

This new law requires that teachers and principals in D.C. schools receive training every two years on recognizing the warning signs and risk factors for youth suicide and implement best practices for suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention. Clearly, this law will help save young lives in schools across D.C.

“The Trevor Project is proud to have played a key role in helping this bill pass, which will help not only LGBTQ youth, but also foster and homeless youth, as well as those living with mental illness, substance use disorders, self-harming behaviors, and those bereaved by suicide,” Abbe Land, CEO and Executive Director of The Trevor Project says.

Through early intervention, bill 21-361 is a long-term investment in young people’s futures. With the enactment of this bill, there is now model legislative language that other states can use to implement similar laws. Just last month, the California Assembly’s Education Committee held a hearing on a similar bill requiring middle and high schools to adopt suicide prevention policies.

Councilmember Grosso says, “Throughout the legislative process, The Trevor Project was a strong partner and consistent advocate for the mental health services and policies needed 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.” On May 6, 2016 at Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco, The Trevor Project is honoring Councilmember Grosso with the Ally Award for his help in drafting bill 21-361 at A Night Out for Trevor D.C.

The Trevor Project will now turn its attention to other states to ensure schools across the country have policies to help students who may be thinking of suicide. Learn more about the policy from Trevor’s Associate Director of Government Affairs, Amy Loudermilk, in The Advocate.

To join us in our advocacy efforts to bring suicide prevention to schools, visit our Advocacy page. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.