Feb 12, 2022
In the state of Florida, there are two education related bills (Senate Bill 1834 and House Bill 1557) being considered that would be seriously detrimental to LGBTQ youth to the point that if passed into law, their suicide rate would almost certainly increase. You may be wondering how I can make such a bold statement. Well, I can because it’s based on facts that I will explain.
The Trevor Project is a national organization which provides support for LGBTQ young people in crisis who may be considering suicide. In 2021, they conducted a nationwide survey of close to 35,000 LGBTQ young people (aged 13 to 24), and here are some key numbers that they found. 42% of LGBTQ youth had seriously considered suicide in the past year, and for transgender/nonbinary youth, that number was 52%. 72% of LGBTQ young people reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder in the previous two weeks, and only one in three indicated that they lived in an LGBTQ affirming home. In the past year, 48% said that they wanted professional counseling but had not received it, and LGBTQ youth who had been subjected to conversion therapy were more than twice as likely to attempt suicide when compared to those who had not been subjected to the barbaric practice.
Think about those numbers. I mean really think about them. And here’s another one to consider: of minors who have experienced homelessness, around 40% identify as LGBTQ. These statistics are scary and prove how far society still needs to go in terms of LGBTQ acceptance, understanding, and rights.
Now, let’s go back to the two bills I mentioned that critics are calling the “Don’t Say Gay” bills. They are dangerous because they place serious limitations on schools’ abilities to discuss and deal with LGBTQ issues. In their current form, they say, “A school district may not encourage classroom discussion about sexual orientation or gender identity in primary grade levels or in a manner that is not age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” The latter part of this in particular is quite vague and could easily be abused so that older students would likely be affected as well. The result would be teachers being afraid to discuss LGBTQ history and issues which in turn would make LGBTQ students feel even more isolated, marginalized, and confused.
Another extremely disturbing part of the bills say, “critical decisions affecting a student’s mental, emotional, or physical health or well-being” must be told to the parents. What this essentially means is that unless they can prove doing so would lead to harm (something that would be extremely difficult to do), school faculty would be required to out LGBTQ students to their parents whether the students were ready for this or not. Why is this important you may wonder? Well, go back to the numbers above, in particular the part where only one in three youth say they live in an LGBTQ affirming home. The fact is: many minors have parents who are very prejudiced against the LGBTQ Community, and because of this, many students are more likely to come out to a school counselor or teacher before they are ready to tell their prejudiced parents. If these bills become law, this important outlet for these students will be taken away.
The cold hard reality is that these bills, if passed into law, would certainly worsen situations for many LGBTQ youth (especially their mental health) as they became more isolated, marginalized, closeted, confused, and frightened. Instead of being able to seek out and receive support when they need it, too many would end up suffering in silence, afraid of anyone discovering their secret. This in turn would worsen quality of life and undoubtedly lead to increased suicide rates.
So I hope you will join me in spreading the word in opposing these bills as well as other anti-LGBTQ bills being pushed in states around the country because lives are literally at stake