More broadly, what key issues do LGBTQ people currently face in America and what other laws, regulations, and policies help break down these barriers?
The Trevor project is assessing that more than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth think seriously about suicide in the U.S. every year and could benefit from our services. That’s why we worked so hard on the implementation 988 banknotes [signed into law last year] so that Americans can simply call three digits to reach the National Suicide Prevention Line in times of mental crisis, instead of the current ten-digit number. By shortening this number and expanding specialized services for at-risk populations like LGBTQ young people will work to save lives.
Through our advocacy work, we also strive to address risk factors for suicide, such as conversion therapy. The so-called conversion therapy is a discredited and dangerous practice of trying to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity through psychological, spiritual or medical interventions. I have survived conversion therapy and I know first hand how devastating it can be for your mental health and well-being. In ours research, LGBTQ youth who underwent conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to report attempted suicide as those who did not.
The Trevor project is working in all fifty states to protect LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy, and I am proud to say that we have helped with the passage of protection in twenty states and in more than eighty localities.
Another risk factor for suicide is housing instability, which LGBTQ young people face at a disproportionately high rate. Twenty-nine percent LGBTQ youth reported homelessness, eviction or flight. And our research has shown that those who have had housing instability reported considering suicide twice as fast and attempting suicide more than three times as high as LGBTQ youth who did not.
We were grateful to see that the Biden administration has committed itself to enforcing the Fair Housing Act to investigate cases of discrimination in LGBTQ-based housing. But we also know that the housing issues faced by LGBTQ youth go beyond discrimination. We need to expand programs and protection for LGBTQ young people who have housing instability, especially those who are transgender or non-binary, colored or living with HIV or AIDS.