By Maria Lebron, February 2020
The Trevor Project Research Study
The Trevor Project is a non-profit organization focused on suicide prevention efforts for LGBTQ young people under 25 years of age. The organization runs The Trevor Lifeline, a confidential 24-hour suicide hotline with trained professionals. The Trevor Project also offers guidance, resources, and trainings for parents, teachers, and professionals who work with LGBTQ youth in order to foster safe, accepting, and inclusive environments for LGBTQ youth.
A research brief issued June 2019 by the Trevor Project (https://www.thetrevorproject.org/2019/06/27/research-brief-accepting-adults-reduce-suicide-attempts-among-lgbtq-youth/) found that LGBTQ youth who had at least one accepting adult in their lives reduced the chance of a suicide attempt by 40 percent. While other studies have pointed out the importance of supportive and accepting parents and school staff on LBGTQ youth, this report highlights the positive impact the support of any adult can have in reducing suicide risk.
The study contained a total of 25,896 young people in the final sample. Of these, 20,202 had revealed their orientation to any of the following: their parents, an extended family member, teacher, guidance counselor, or a doctor or healthcare provider. Of the 80% of respondents who had disclosed, 79% reported experiencing acceptance from at least one person. The respondents were then asked if they had attempted suicide within the past year. Over one quarter of the respondents who did not have a supportive adult in their lives reported an attempted suicide in the last year, compared to 17% for those who had experienced acceptance from an adult.
The Harm Caused by Anti-LGBT Laws
This study highlights how much of an impact the support and acceptance from just one adult can have in decreasing mental health problems and suicide risk among LBGTQ youth. Knowing this, it highlights the harm which will be caused from the anti-LBGTQ bills being proposed across the country which would rescind nondiscrimination protections, legalize conversion therapy, exclude transgender youth from sports, and prevent transgender youth from using bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identity. Especially disturbing is a bill which has already passed the South Dakota House making it a felony for healthcare providers to provide gender-affirming care to minors. If this bill is passed in the South Dakota Senate and signed by the Governor, medical professionals who provide this type of care would face up to 10 years in prison. Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina, and Texas are considering similar bills to prevent transgender youth from receiving gender-affirming care.
For a population which is already at risk for suicide risk, anti-LGBTQ bills are a threat to young people whose experiences of discrimination and rejection negatively impact their mental health.