While North Carolina Republicans push for bills that blatantly discriminate against trans youth and target LGBTQ youth, an alarming statistic underscores the impact of these evergrowing attacks.
A newly released survey by The Trevor Project revealed that 41% of LGBTQ youth said they seriously considered suicide and 14% of respondents said they attempted suicide in the past year. The survey also found that nearly 1 in 3 said their mental health was poor most of the time or all the time due to anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies.
In addition, nearly 2 in 3 said hearing of the potential of new laws and the prohibition of discussion of LGBTQ issues in the classroom made their mental health a lot worse.
For North Carolina, the survey found that 46% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered suicide in the past year, including 53% of transgender and nonbinary youth.
The survey also found that 58% of LGBTQ youth said they sought mental health care but could not access it in the state.
These statistics come as state legislatures across the country, including in North Carolina, have introduced bills that are erasing access to books about LGBTQ experiences and voices, limiting participation in team sports, and restricting access to gender-affirming care.
“They’re being told by their leaders that they don’t matter, that they don’t have value, that they are villains,” Candis Cox with the LGBTQ Center of Durham, told ABC 11.
“Forty-one percent is an alarmingly high rate. For anyone I mean, 1% is a terrible thing, but 41% LGBTQIA+ people to be considering suicide is terrifying,” Cox stated. “Because that means that nearly half of LGBTQIA+ people surveyed don’t feel as though they actually have a right and an ability to live and to exist and to be in this country and in this world.”
N.C. Health News reported that this year, just through April, already marks the fourth consecutive record-breaking year for the number of anti-trans bills considered in the United States, according to Trans Legislation Tracker.
“This is a public health crisis — and it’s preventable,” Kasey Suffredini, vice president of Advocacy & Government Affairs for The Trevor Project, said in a press release. “Our government must work from the top down to curb risk factors like violence and discrimination and increase access to essential health care, safe schools, and support systems. Yet, far too many lawmakers at the state level are working overtime to push a dangerous political agenda that will jeopardize young lives.”
To push back against these harmful bills, and support LGBTQ youth mental health, survey respondents said that it is essential that people in their lives educate themselves on how to be supportive and accepting, on gender identity and sexual orientation, gender binary, understanding of microaggressions, racism and intersectionality.
In addition, the creation of LGBTQ-affirming spaces in schools, where young people can freely express their identity safely and without fear, has made a huge impact on improving mental health.
According to experts, LGBTQ students who have access to LGBTQ-affirming schools have reported better mental health outcomes and lower rates of attempting suicide.
“The reason it is so imperative for schools to be an affirming space is [because] school is the only place that young people have to go,” Amy Cannava, the appointed chair of the National Association of School Psychologists’ LGBTQ+ committee and a school practitioner in Virginia, told Education Week. “Because they have to be there, it becomes our obligation to act, following what is considered to be empirically validated best practices, which is to be affirming. They legally have a right to be in a place that is safe and supportive and not going to endanger their mental or physical health”.
The Trevor Project offers a 24/7 hotline to LGBTQ youth needing information or support. The number is 866-488-7386 or text ‘START’ to 678-678.
If you or someone you know may be considering suicide, contact the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 9-8-8, or the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741. You can also access the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline online here.