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 1-866-488-7386, 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.


North Carolina Legislature Fails to Protect LGBTQ Constituents

Today, the North Carolina legislature called a special session where, according to Governor McCrory, they would “reconsider existing state legislation” in reference to House Bill 2 which is frequently referred to as the “bathroom bill.” In reality the bill does so much more than restrict bathroom access, it also limits LGBTQ rights by not allowing for local anti-discrimination ordinances. The session was called in response to a Monday night vote by the Charlotte City council to rescind their local law (a non-discrimination ordinance) that originally led to the statewide HB2, according to the Charlotte Observer.  Rescinding the local ordinance was meant to allow for full repeal of HB2.  The North Carolina legislature today debated a repeal that would have also added a six-month moratorium on any local anti-discrimination ordinances. They failed to repeal HB2, thereby failing their LGBTQ constituents.

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project said, “We are outraged that the North Carolina legislature is continuing its practice of discrimination against transgender and gender nonconforming people and they leave the entire LGBTQ community open to discrimination. The actions in North Carolina show how important our work at The Trevor Project is and we remain committed to fighting for the future of LGBTQ youth.”  Anyone in need of crisis intervention services is encouraged to call the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.  The lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days of the year.

According to our colleagues at Lambda Legal and the ACLU, “H.B. 2 bans transgender people from accessing restrooms and public facilities consistent with their gender identity and prevents local municipalities from extending nondiscrimination protections to LGBT people. H.B. 2 is estimated to have cost North Carolina over $600 million in lost revenue from businesses concerned with the discriminatory nature of the law, and was a contributing factor in the election defeat of the outgoing Governor Pat McCrory.”


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


Survey of Trans Adults Shows High Need for Suicide Prevention Services

We congratulate our friends at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) who today released the largest survey of transgender people ever conducted. Their findings reveal significant disparities between transgender people and the rest of the U.S. population across a range of categories. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS) examined the experiences of transgender people across the United States, with 27,715 respondents from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and U.S. military bases overseas. The USTS serves as a follow-up to the groundbreaking 2008-2009 National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS), which has been integral in shifting how the public and policymakers view transgender people and the challenges they face.

Among the starkest findings is that 40% of respondents have attempted suicide in their lifetime—nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).  As David Crary reports in the Washington Post, “There have been some important gains for transgender rights in the years between the two surveys, but the new survey showed little or no improvement in terms of transgender people’s day-to-day experiences with bias,” and that the survey “paints a grim picture of pervasive discrimination and harassment” against the transgender community. The full survey report is available at www.ustranssurvey.org.

While we still have a long way to go, the improved visibility and acceptance highlighted by the report may be an indicator that we are moving in the right direction in some aspects.  60% of respondents reported that their family was accepting of them as a transgender individual and 68% of those out to their coworkers report acceptance in the workplace.

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.  We encourage transgender youth to reach out to us via the Trevor Lifeline 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386.


Trace Lysette Has a Message for Trans* and Gender Non-Conforming Youth: You Matter

The Trevor Project celebrates Transgender Awareness Month for the entirety of November.  November 20th marked Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day in which we remembered those who have lost their lives.  To honor the resilience of our community, we released two special PSAs from Trace Lysette of Transparent.

Remember that no matter what your gender identity, The Trevor Project is here to support you. If you are curious about your own gender identity, or want to understand how to better support transgender and gender non-conforming folks in your community, take a look in our Support Center for information on gender identity. 

If you’re looking to take action, you can make a difference by donating, holding  a fundraiser for #GivingTuesday, volunteering, or becoming an Ambassador.

If you or someone you know needs help, know that we are here for you 24/7, every day of the year, at 1-866-488-7386, with more digital services available as well.  We are here to champion and support all LGBTQ youth, no matter what your identity.  Know that you are valid, and you matter.


Alarming Rise in Death by Suicide Among 10-14 Year Old Youth

Data released in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Report shows that the rate of death by suicide among adolescents, 10 – 14 years old, has been on the rise and is now higher than that of death by motor vehicles.  In 2009 approximately 1 youth per 100,000 died by suicide, compared to 2014 when approximately 2 youth per 100,000 took their own lives.

At the Trevor Project, the nation’s only accredited suicide prevention program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth under 25, we hear from youth every day about the struggles they are facing.  According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) report, we know that LGB young people in 9th to 12th grade attempt suicide at a rate more than four times that of their heterosexual peers.  While reliable national statistics for LGB youth in the 10 – 14 year old range do not exist, we know from the daily crisis calls, chats, and texts we receive that they too are at risk for suicidal ideation, particularly during this critical time in their identity development.

Of note, the rate of death by motor vehicles has dropped significantly over the same period that the rate of death by suicide has increased, among 10 – 14 year olds. The success in combatting motor vehicle deaths is attributable to a comprehensive approach including infrastructure improvements, policy and system change, partnerships, education and awareness, along with a major investment of over $576 million by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration funded in grants to promote motor vehicle safety and the U.S. If similar comprehensive, multifaceted national suicide prevention efforts were implemented and brought to scale, as outlined in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, this country would have the potential to reverse the trend in suicide mortality.

“At The Trevor Project we are very disturbed to know that suicide is rising among the youth of this nation.  We receive calls from youth as young as 9 years old who are looking for support as they struggle with their sexual and gender identity,” said Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.  “It is imperative that more resources need to go toward preventing suicide in this country.  It is unconscionable that significant dollars are not allocated when we know that suicide can be prevented.  We call upon our national, state and local leaders to take action immediately.”

While incredibly informative about prevalence, the report does not include information on the causes of these trends.  There are certainly many contributing factors to consider, but is it also very important to note what can be done to foster resilience and safety for LGBTQ and other youth.  Families, schools, and communities must come together to reduce the risk for youth suicide by creating safe, connected environments that foster resiliency, non-violent problem solving skills, and coping skills.  In particular, the public can take part in improving the lives of young people who report being LGBTQ by showing them that we all care about their mental health:

  • Connect youth to Trevor’s crisis services.  We save young lives 24/7 through the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.  TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm Eastern Time daily, and youth can text TrevorText by sending the message START to 678678 Thursday – Friday 4-8pm Eastern 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 acceptance and support with 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 and encourage the use of our Model School Policy which can help school districts draft suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs.

Help create a bright future for LGBTQ and all youth by showing that you truly care and that they can thrive, they matter, and they deserve support.  More resources are available at www.thetrevorproject.org.  The Trevor Project is a partner of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and championing suicide prevention as a national priority.


The Trevor Project Goes to Mexico to Advise on Creation of Suicide and Crisis Intervention Hotline

In October, The Trevor Project was invited by the U.S. Embassy in Mexico to visit Mexico City to provide consultation with local organizers seeking to create crisis services for LGBTQ youth.  As the only nationally accredited suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth under age 25, The Trevor Project was chosen as an expert in the field of suicide prevention for LGBTQ people by the U.S. Embassy.  The Trevor Project was honored to represent the United States abroad as a consultant on how to create lifesaving programs for LGBTQ people.

Consultants from The Trevor Project were David Bond, LCSW, Vice President of Programs, and Brock Dumville, MPH, Senior Crisis Services Manager, who met with a local group of community influencers and LGBTQ advocates in Mexico City, including Alex Orué, the Regional Coordinator for It Gets Better in Latin America.  20 million people live in Mexico City, making it the largest urban center in Mexico and a key place to begin this lifesaving work.  Building from there, community organizers hope to reach out to parts of the country with more complicated access.

“We are grateful that the U.S. Embassy in Mexico understood that programs like those of The Trevor Project could help save young LGBTQ lives outside the U.S.,” said Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.  “We hope to use our expertise to consult with other international communities so that LGBTQ youth around the globe will have the benefit of knowing that there is a place for them to turn if they are in need.”

Over the course of two days in Mexico City, The Trevor Project communicated best practices from its work, covering 5 core programs and focusing specifically on Crisis Services, Peer Support Programs, and Education.  Local organizers discussed the particular needs of Mexico’s LGBTQ population, and what programs could be relevant, or what could be modified culturally to serve the unique needs of their community.  Day one was focused on strategic organizational planning, including assembling an advisory board and roles, an environmental scan of their resources and deficits.  Day two was focused on suicide theory and intervention strategies.

The two-day consultation left organizers in Mexico with inspiring ideas and a tangible roadmap to build lifesaving programs for LGBTQ people.  With the support of the U.S. Embassy in Mexico, United States-based NGOs are expanding their reach to start an international dialogue on how to save lives from suicide.  These cultural exchanges spread understanding for intervention strategies, support for mental health services, and compassion for LGBTQ people. The Trevor Project is honored to be recognized as a leader in suicide prevention for LGBTQ youth both nationally and internationally, and grateful for the support of the United States government in creating a more supportive world for LGBTQ people.


AB 2246 Passes: CA Becomes First State in The Nation With Suicide Prevention Education

Governor Jerry Brown has established a national precedent by signing AB 2246, a bill that requires the adoption of suicide prevention, intervention, and follow-up plans by local California school districts with students in grades 7-12. Co-authored with The Trevor Project, Equality California, and Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell, AB 2246 is the first state bill of its kind in the nation, as it mandates that all schools in California implement suicide prevention policies that specifically address the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.  The bill requires local education agencies to develop  their policies in conjunction with suicide prevention experts, school and community stakeholders, and school mental health professionals.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people ages 10-24. Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of transgender people have thought about suicide.

Assemblymember O’Donnell believes that suicide prevention training for teachers and schools is crucial for saving young lives. “As classroom teacher, I know from experience that educators often serve as the first line of defense when a student is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools with the tools they need to help save the lives of at-risk youth.”

“Nearly 20 percent of young people who reach out to The Trevor Project’s suicide prevention programs are from California. AB 2246 will provide parents, teachers and schools the tools they need to recognize students at risk for suicide and understand how to help, which will surely decrease the risk among youth in the state” says Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.

“Aside from students’ own families, teachers often spend more time with at-risk kids than anyone else,” said Rick Zbur, Executive Director of Equality California. “But it is difficult help if they don’t recognize the warning signs or have access to resources at their schools. With the first state law in the nation to require middle and high school suicide prevention education that specifically requires attention to the needs of LGBTQ youth, California can now serve as a model for schools nationally.”

The Trevor Project is proud to have participated in the hearings that took place in Sacramento and thanks Boardmember Lindsay Chambers for testifying along with Trevor’s ED and CEO, Abbe Land.  We also thank Governor Jerry Brown for this groundbreaking step in LGBTQ advocacy and education efforts.


Rory Training Advocacy

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 1-866-488-7386. TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm ET and 12-6 pm PT daily, and youth can text “START” to 678678 Thurs-Friday 4-8 pm ET and 1-5 pm PT. 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. Please sign up for our Advocacy Network so we can alert you when you need to take action and to support, donate here. For more information and resources, visit thetrevorproject.org.