Survey shows negative impact of anti-LGBT+ policies on young people

·2-min read

A new survey from the Trevor Project has found that nearly one in three young members of the LGBT+ community say they are experiencing poor mental health because of anti-LGBT+ laws and policies.

The Trevor Project, a nonprofit founded in 1998 and dedicated to suicide prevention in the LGBT+ community, conducted its annual survey with more than 28,000 LGBT+ people between the ages of 13 and 24 across the country.

Its findings were striking: not only are anti-LGBT+ policies and laws responsible for poor mental health in thousands of young people, but 41 percent of LGBT+ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Additionally, a majority of LGBT+ youth reported being harrassed or bullied at school for their gender identity or sexual orientation. More than half of young LGBT+ people reported experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Notably, the younger LGBT+ people are, the more at risk they appear to be. LGBT+ youth between the ages of 13 and 17 were more likely to seriously consider and attempt suicide than youth between the ages of 18 and 24.

The crisis in LGBT+ mental health comes at a time of renewed attacks against the community, many of which have eminated from state legislatures this year.

A record number of anti-LGBT+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country already this year, targeting everything from gender-affirming healthcare for transgender youth to drag performances to discussions of gender and sexual identity in classrooms.

In April, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) had calculated that there had already been 417 anti-LGBT+ bills introduced in state legislatures — lapping last year’s record of 180 bills. The number of anti-LGBT+ pieces of legislation has increased every year since 2018.

The majority of the bills introduced this year are focused on education, and many of them are modeled on the Don’t Say Gay legislation passed in Florida last year. More than 140 bills target LGBT+ healthcare, while other bills are focused on government-issued IDs and public accomodations, per the ACLU.

The civil rights landscape for LGBT+ people varies considerably by state. While some states have taken steps to shore up protections for LGBT+ residents, the situation in Florida has devolved to such a point that advocacy groups issued an advisory for LGBT+ travellers.

The Trevor Project survey suggests that there are more localised mental health challenges for LGBT+ youth as well — including that the majority of LGBT+ youth are not accepted at home.

Acceptance of people’s identities, they note, goes a long way. Transgender and nonbinary people who reported that all the people they live with respect their pronouns reported lower rates of attempting suicide, as did transgender and nonbinary people who had access to different forms of gender-affirming care and clothing.