What are the main problems LGBTQ people are facing in America right now, and what other laws, decisions, and guidelines are helping to break down these barriers?
The Trevor Project estimates that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth in the United States each year could seriously consider suicide and benefit from our services. That’s why we worked so hard to implement the 988 bill [signed into law last year] So that during moments of mental health crisis, Americans can simply dial three digits to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline instead of the current ten-digit number. Reducing this number and expanding specialized services for high-risk populations such as LGBTQ youth will help save lives.
Through our advocacy work, we also seek to address risk factors for suicide such as conversion therapy. Conversion therapy is the discredited and dangerous practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through psychological, spiritual, or medical interventions. I am a conversion therapy survivor and I know firsthand how devastating it can be to your mental health and wellbeing. In our study, LGBTQ adolescents who had undergone conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to have attempted suicide than those who had not.
The Trevor Project works to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy in all fifty states, and I am proud that we have helped put in place protective measures in twenty states and more than eighty locations.
Another risk factor for suicide is housing instability, with which LGBTQ youth are disproportionately confronted. 29 percent of LGBTQ youth said they were homeless, thrown out or ran away. And our research has shown that those who suffered from residential instability said they were twice as likely to consider suicide and more than three times as likely to attempt suicide as LGBTQ adolescents who hadn’t.
We were grateful that the Biden government committed to enforcing the Fair Housing Act to investigate cases of discrimination based on LGBTQ-based housing. But we also know that the housing problems LGBTQ young people face go beyond discrimination. We need to expand programs and protections for LGBTQ youth who suffer from residential instability, especially transgender or non-binary people, people of color or people living with HIV or AIDS.