FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 13, 2017
Contact: Sheri A. Lunn | [email protected] | 310.271.8845 ext. 402
(Washington, June 13, 2017) – Today U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney reintroduced a bill to Provide a Requirement to Improve Date Collection Efforts, also known as the LGBT PRIDE Act, which will improve our understanding of the relationship between LGBTQ individuals and suicide.
The bill directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance the collection of sexual orientation and gender identity data for deceased individuals, including those who died by suicide. Currently national surveillance endeavors including the National Violent Death Reporting System do not collect sexual orientation or gender identity information on decedents, leaving an enormous gap in our knowledge of the number of LGBTQ youth who die by suicide. The idea for the bill was conceived during a legislative briefing by The Trevor Project on LGBTQ youth suicide last year. Once Rep. Maloney learned of this inequality he quickly set out to draft the PRIDE Act to correct it.
From the office of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus: “One year after the deadly shooting at Orlando’s Pulse nightclub, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18), New York’s first openly gay member of Congress, announced the introduction of the bill to improve data collection on the sexual orientation and gender identity of victims of violent crimes. Rep. Maloney’s LGBT PRIDE (Provide a Requirement to Improve Date Collection Efforts) Act calls on CDC to improve the process, and authorizes $25 million to fund the effort.
Although the overwhelming majority of victims of the Pulse shooting were LGBTQ, the federal government’s National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) collects only a small amount of information on sexual orientation and gender identity. This means the lives lost in the Orlando attack were not recorded as anti-LGBT murders in any data collection.
Pulse wasn’t an isolated occurrence – anti-LGBTQ violence is way too common – it happens when a transwoman of color is gunned down in the street, it happens when a young gay person is bullied into depression or takes his own life. “We have to get more information on where this violence is happening and we have to be more aggressive about doing something to stop it – and this bill is a necessary first step.”
“No American should ever feel like they are treated less than equal. It’s on all of us to continue fighting until we make this a reality. The LGBT PRIDE Act will authorize $25 million to expand data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity through the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System. This data is critical for identifying the causes of violent crime, and developing new, strategic methods to stop it. I’m proud to join Congressman Maloney in introducing this important bill today,” said Rep. David Cicilline, Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus.
“This legislation will play a critical role helping us to better understand and help end LGBTQ youth suicide,” said Trevor Project CEO Amit Paley. “Currently no one is able to answer the question of how many LGBTQ individuals die by suicide every year. This is a monumental gap in our knowledge of suicide and keeps us from most effectively targeting prevention and intervention efforts. The saying often goes ‘if you’re not counted then you don’t count’, and it’s time to finally acknowledge the importance of LGBTQ lives and get the data to help save those lives.”
The LGBT PRIDE Act would require the CDC to improve its data collection on sexual orientation and gender identity and authorize $25 million to fund the effort. The system currently has the ability to collect data on sexual orientation and gender identity, but various barriers exist to comprehensive collection. The NVDRS aggregates data from a variety of local sources including death certificates, coroner/medical examiner reports, police reports, and crime labs. This data is used to inform policy and regulatory decisions aimed at responding to public health crises such as suicide and homicide at the local, federal, and state level. All data collection is performed on a voluntary basis, and the results are only released in aggregate to protect the privacy of decedents.
Amy Loudermilk, Trevor Project Director of Government Affairs said, “We know LGBTQ youth have disproportionately higher rates of suicide attempts, but what we don’t know is if that extends to disproportionate rates of death by suicide. In order to prevent suicide deaths and save young lives this data is of vital importance.”
Loudermilk spoke at this morning’s press conference with Representative Maloney at the United States Capitol. Below are her remarks:
“Good Morning. My name is Amy Loudermilk and I’m the director of government affairs at The Trevor Project, the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. At The Trevor project, we are experts on the issue of LGBTQ youth suicide and have over 50,000 crisis contacts with youth every year. I routinely talk about the disproportionate risk LGBTQ young people have for suicide attempts. For example, LGB youth attempt suicide at four times the rate as straight youth, and a recent survey found that 40% of transgender adults reported attempting suicide, with 92% of those attempting before the age of 25. What I can’t tell you though, is how many LGBTQ youth die by suicide in each year. No one can answer that question because neither sexual orientation nor gender identity data is routinely collected when someone dies from a violent death. Rep. Maloney’s PRIDE Act will change that.
Did you know that since 2000 motor vehicle related fatalities have decreased 35-40%? A number of factors contributed to this, including: laws against texting or talking on the phone while driving; zero tolerance for drunk driving; child car seat laws and helmet laws. The impact public policy can make is truly impressive and in this case lifesaving. But right now it’s as if we’re in the dark ages of LGBTQ suicide prevention because we don’t even have a baseline number of deaths from which to assess the effectiveness of interventions or appropriately target resources.
This landmark piece of legislation signals a fundamental change in the way information about violent deaths, including suicide and homicide, are recorded and reported. It also communicates a key message to LGBTQ youth: their lives matter. We can only get better at saving lives if we have data about who is most at risk. The Trevor Project is incredibly grateful to Rep. Maloney and his staff for introducing this bill and helping to obtain the data necessary to move the field of suicide prevention into the light so we can continue to help shed light on this issue and provide support to LGBTQ youth in crisis.”
About the Trevor Project:
The Trevor Project is the leading and only accredited national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) young people under the age of 25. The Trevor Project offers a suite of crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifeline, TrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest peer-to-peer social support network for LGBTQ young people under the age of 25, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our Trevor Lifeline crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 866.488.7386. www.TheTrevorProject.org