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:
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[email protected]

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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


Statement from Abbe Land: South Dakota Governor Vetoes Anti-Trans Student Bathroom Bill

FILE – In this Jan. 12, 2016 file photo, South Dakota Gov. Dennis Daugaard delivers his during his annual state of the state address at the state Capitol in Pierre. Daugaard faces a deadline Tuesday, March 1, 2016, to make a decision about a bill that would require transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their sex at birth. Daugaard hasn’t said what he plans to do with the proposal. If he signs the legislation or allows it to take effect without his signature, South Dakota would become the first state in the nation with such a law. (AP Photo/James Nord, File)

As one of the leaders in advocacy and policy change for LGBTQ youth, The Trevor Project applauds Governor Dennis Dauggard for vetoing HB 1008, a bill that would have banned transgender students from safely accessing bathrooms in their schools.

With nearly half of young transgender people who have seriously thought about taking their lives, and one quarter who have reported having made a suicide attempt [4], Governor Dauggard’s vetoing of this bill is just one step towards ensuring the mental health and well-being of transgender youth in school environments.

While South Dakota has made progress by vetoing HB 1008, there are similar anti-trans bills across Wisconsin, Kentucky, Mississippi, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. At The Trevor Project, we are advocating to require LGBTQ suicide prevention training of all school personnel through our Model School District Policy, which includes recognizing the genders of transgender youth, both through LGBTQ education and affirmative spaces, such as bathrooms. With your support of this policy, we can ensure that youth have brighter educations, regardless of gender or sexuality.

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 joining us in our advocacy efforts.

 

Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO, The Trevor Project

SOURCE

[4] Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors. 37(5), 527-37.

Photo via AP/James Nord


The Lifeguard Workshop: Trevor’s New Online Education Resource

At The Trevor Project, we know one supportive person can make a difference in an LGBTQ young person’s life. We also know that it can sometimes be difficult to have conversations about mental health, suicide prevention, and LGBTQ identity in the classroom. That’s why we are launching a new online educational resource—The Lifeguard Workshop—to help teachers, mental health professionals, social workers, administrators, PTAs, GSAs, and faith groups share lifesaving programs with youth in their communities. With this resource, we are showing youth they are not alone and it is brave to ask for help.

We have heard so many stories about teachers and counselors who have made young people feel safe and accepted.  For example, one 15-year-old trans person in California told us:

“My Spanish teacher had a little sticker on her desk that said that her classroom was a safe space for LGBT students. I decided that I would come out to her because I really wanted to have someone to talk to about school and being trans. She supported me and told me that she was happy for me…She automatically changed pronouns for me in class, and she was always available for me to talk.”

Based on The Trevor Project’s in-person workshop, which is listed in the SPRC/AFSP Best Practice Registry for Suicide Prevention, we’ve designed The Lifeguard Workshop to include a video, Safer Spaces Guide, and empathy building lessons for middle school and high school aged youth. The Lifeguard Workshop teaches youth how to identify the challenges faced by LGBTQ people, recognize the warning signs of suicide, and respond to someone who may be in crisis. TheTrevorProject.org/Lifeguard also provides information on The Trevor Project’s crisis intervention services, like our 24/7 Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386, TrevorChat and TrevorText, and our online community, TrevorSpace.org.

To celebrate the launch of The Lifeguard Workshop, we’ve designed a classroom poster and other educational resources you can order here. Since these are new resources, please take a moment to provide us with your feedback by completing a Teacher Survey after using them in your classroom.  And, if you’d like to bring The Trevor Project’s staff to your school district, you can sign up for Care and Ally Training.

We launched our resources at Human Rights Campaign’s Time to Thrive Conference in February, where we joined 45 national organizations dedicated to improving the lives of LGBTQ young people and presented workshops on how to educate young people and youth-serving professionals on LGTBQ-competent suicide prevention, risk detection, and response. Transgender activist and children’s book author Jazz Jennings joined in supporting our efforts, with a shout-out on Twitter to her over 43.7K followers.

From March 9-12, Trevor will be at the American Association of Social Workers Conference in Baltimore, and from March 18-20, we will be in North Carolina at the LGBT in the South Conference to present The Lifeguard Workshop live, joining educators and youth-serving professionals to build awareness and cultural competency, learn current and emerging best practices, and gather resources from leading experts in the field. And, in the summer, watch out for our Summer Reading List on our Pinterest page to further your support of LGBTQ youth when the school season ends.

To help make it easier for schools to prevent, assess, intervene in, and respond to suicidal behavior, The Trevor Project has also collaborated to create a Model School District Policy for Suicide Prevention. This modular, adaptable document will help educators and school administrators implement comprehensive suicide prevention policies in communities nationwide. The fact sheet and full policy can be downloaded here.

Youth-serving professionals can also join our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, for a monthly informational webinar which will explore how to facilitate a Lifeguard Workshop, address tough questions, and make classrooms safer spaces. For more information, you can contact her at [email protected]

With education, we can help prevent suicide. Thank you to the educators and leaders who are sharing lifesaving resources with youth in their communities. You are making a difference!

Photo one features Executive Director and CEO Abbe Land, along with our Senior Education Manager, Danielle Orner, and Vice President of Programs, David Bond, holding our new educational posters.  Photo two features TrevorLIVE Youth Innovator, trans activist, and children’s book author Jazz Jennings.


Trevor Helps Introduce the D.C. Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act

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, D.C. Council Member David Grosso worked with The Trevor Project, The D.C. Center, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and others on the Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act, which was introduced in the fall of 2015.  Requiring suicide prevention training of all school personnel in D.C., this is the first bill in the nation to specifically require education about LGBTQ youth as a group with a higher risk of suicide. The Youth Suicide Prevention & School Climate Survey Act will require that information about the LGBTQ population be provided to all school employees, with an update in curriculum every five years to ensure the latest research is being incorporated.

With training, teachers and administrators can better identify youth who may be at-risk for suicidal ideation and refer those students to mental health professionals.  In an effort to improve student performance and attendance in the classroom, school personnel will be also be able to identify factors in the school environment that may contribute to youth stressors, such as the lack of safe spaces and gender neutral bathrooms, interpersonal relationships, social interactions, and organizational processes.

Through early intervention, the D.C. Youth Suicide Prevention & Climate Survey Act is a long-term investment in young people’s futures. Co-sponsored by twelve out of thirteen council members, the bill has overwhelming support and will soon go to the full council for final votes. Ultimately, by enacting this bill, we believe it will become the model legislative statute for other states to adopt, which will help stop suicide and specifically protect LGBTQ youth.

Council Member Grosso says, “It has been an honor to work with the Trevor Project and other advocate organizations on drafting and passing the Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015. Throughout the legislative process, The Trevor Project was a strong partner and consistent advocate for the best mental health services and policies 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.”

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 joining us in our advocacy efforts.


Help Pass The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act

When Oregon Senator Gordon H. Smith’s son died by suicide, his mission was to raise awareness about suicide prevention in colleges. Through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA), signed by President George W. Bush in 2004, $82 million was authorized to provide suicide prevention and crisis intervention programs across the nation. For over a decade, funds have been used to support the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, Youth Suicide Prevention Strategy Grants to States and Tribes, campus-based grants for college students, and mental health and substance use disorder services. At The Trevor Project, we recognize that this act has been crucial to the health of youth in the LGBTQ community.

Now, Congress is back in session and it’s time to make sure that the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act is passed so that vital funding for suicide prevention and intervention services remains available.  Besides being its own standalone bill, all provisions of GLSMA are included in several bills currently in Congress, including the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act and the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act. The time is ripe for mental health reform in Washington, and Trevor supports the passage of any of these bills as long as the GLSMA provisions are contained and fully funded so that youth who may be thinking of suicide have the support and resources needed to maintain their mental health.

More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder. Four out of five young people with a diagnosable mental health condition do not receive treatment. LGB youth are four times more likely and questioning youth are three times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, while nearly half of transgender youth have seriously considered attempting suicide. We can do better for young people who should be receiving treatment, but are not being diagnosed, do not have access to mental health professionals, or who face stigma and shame that keep their mental health challenges from being addressed.

Help save young lives by taking action to reform the mental health system and ensure Congress takes into account the needs of LGBTQ youth. Email your representatives today and ask them to include the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act provisions in mental health reform efforts. Together, let’s prevent suicide through education and awareness.

Photo courtesy of The White House


The Trevor Project Commemorates Human Rights Day

Today is #HumanRightsDay, a time for people to help build a world where LGBTQ people are embraced in every community. All should have the right to feel safe living as their authentic selves. Like always, we create that safe space for youth by having counselors on call 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, TrevorChat.org, and TrevorSpace.org. But, we are also fighting for the mental health rights of the community so that they will have brighter futures moving forward.

Through our advocacy efforts, we’ve helped get conversion therapy banned in Illinois and Oregon, and in Burbank, we’re implementing a school suicide prevention policy. We’re also fighting to get mental health services funded across states, tribes, and universities through the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act. By next year, we hope all these advocacy efforts become realities on a nation-wide level.

Help us in this fight for human rights at thetrevorproject.org/advocacy.