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.


TN’s HB 1840 Negatively Impacts The Mental Health of LGBTQ Youth

The homophobia and transphobia infused in Tennessee’s House Bill 1840 is a disgrace to the mental health community. Denying mental health services to any person based on a counselor’s religious beliefs is harmful to every marginalized person in need of help and is a violation of The American Counseling Association’s code of ethics. It is shocking to see “The Volunteer State,” which has historically fought for the civil rights of Americans, become the first state government to forward this type of discriminatory bill. HB 1840 puts counselors before clients and will negatively impact the mental health and safety of LGBTQ youth.

At The Trevor Project, the only accredited national suicide prevention and crisis intervention service for LGBTQ youth, we are seeing some of the highest volumes of calls from the South. HB 1840 is particularly damaging to the LGBTQ community in rural areas, where access to services and mental healthcare is already limited due to not only location, but also discriminatory barriers. For LGBTQ young people who experience trauma and marginalization, distrust of healthcare providers, businesses, and religious institutions in their areas can prevent them from seeking necessary help. The passage of HB 1840 and other so-called “religious freedom” bills in Mississippi and North Carolina will further exacerbate this. Thankfully, the American Counseling Association and many organizations across Tennessee oppose HB 1840, while many of North Carolina and Mississippi’s largest employers are publicly voicing opposition against their respective “religious freedom” bills.

If Governor Bill Haslam signs HB 1840, young LGBTQ people in Tennessee may face limited access to mental health services. We are grateful that The Tennessee Equality Project is fighting to veto this bill. To take action, please sign their petition or contact Governor Bill Haslam’s office. Our Lifeline counselors are here 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386 and thetrevorproject.org for the young people in Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina, and all of those around the United States who are witnessing these anti-LGBTQ policies go through legislation. You are not alone and we are fighting for you.

To sign up for our future updates about our advocacy efforts, visit our Advocacy page. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


Statement from Abbe Land: “Religious Freedom” Bills Won’t Stop Us From Making Change in Schools

It’s been a week of advocacy victories at The Trevor Project. On April 5, 2016, we helped Council Member David Grosso pass bill 21-361, which will be the first law in the nation to require the development of a school suicide prevention, intervention, and a postvention policy specifically geared towards LGBTQ youth in Washington, D.C. On April 6, 2016, Trevor Board Member Lindsay Chambers and I testified on behalf of young people for Assembly Bill 2246, which if passed, will help California to become the first state in the nation to require their school districts to do the same.

In a time when so-called “religious freedom” bills may have a direct impact on the mental wellness and safety of the LGBTQ community and allies across Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina, and a list of many more, bill 21-361’s language has the potential to positively influence state laws across the nation. Our researched-based Model School District Policy can help school districts draft similar suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs, and we hope these changes in Washington, D.C. and California inspire such progress nationwide.

At The Trevor Project, it is disheartening to note that we continue to see the highest call volumes coming from the South. Discriminatory laws in Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina not only will increase minority stress, but also may contribute to suicidal ideation. For LGBTQ young people who experience trauma and marginalization, these bills may cause distrust of businesses, religious organizations, and healthcare providers, potentially preventing them from seeking necessary help. Fortunately, we are here 24/7 fighting for those young people who feel this backlash and have nowhere to turn to. Our work today is more important than ever. We need your support to continue protecting LGBTQ youth.

To join us in our advocacy efforts to bring suicide prevention to schools and stop discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ measures like those we’ve seen in Tennessee, North Carolina, and Mississippi, visit our Advocacy page or donate here. Thank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project


DC Passes First Bill in the Nation Requiring a School Suicide Policy To Address Needs of LGBTQ Youth

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. Council Member David Grosso worked with leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit 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 DC Council on April 5, 2016 and now heads to the Mayor for her signature.

Requiring that teachers and principals in DC 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, bill 21-361 is now  the first law in the nation to require a school suicide policy to specifically address the needs of LGBTQ youth.

“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. California has already taken advantage of this and on April 6, 2016, we were part of passing a similar bill, AB 2246, through the California Assembly Education Committee. AB 2246 will require  middle and high schools to adopt suicide prevention policies for grades 7-12, and is now moving forward to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

Council Member 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.”

The Trevor Project will now turn its attention to California and other states to ensure schools across the country have policies to help students who may be thinking of suicide. To keep up-to-date with current research, the policy must be revisited every five years.

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.

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 CONTACTS:
Amy Loudermilk, Assoc. Director of Government Affairs

[email protected]

202-974-5952

Shawn Steiner, Marketing Director

[email protected]

646-350-1021 ext. 402


Statement from Abbe Land: Georgia Vetoes Anti-LGBTQ Bill

We are grateful that Governor Nathan Deal has vetoed House Bill 757, a policy which would have made it possible for faith-based organizations and businesses to decline services to the LGBTQ community throughout Georgia. Seeing over 500 businesses and organizations stand together to fight against this bill was inspiring and shows LGBTQ youth in Georgia that their futures matter. This is a signal to the nation that hate and fear-mongering will not win. It also shows the power of standing together to fight discrimination. We must continue to raise our collective voices so that North Carolina and other states learn that we won’t accept anything less than full equality for the LGBTQ community.

To join us in our advocacy efforts against discriminatory policies, visit our Advocacy pageThank you for helping save young lives by being a part of local, state, and federal change.

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

Photo via David Goldman/AP, NPR.org


LGBTQ Advocacy Updates

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Abbe Land

Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project