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Since 2021, lawmakers in 22 states across the U.S. have introduced legislation attacking education about gender and ،ual orientation. So far, the only state to have p،ed such legislation is Florida.
However, as the trend to introduce such legislation grows, the urgency of considering the effects of such enacted and proposed legislation on the mental health and well-being of LGBTQ youth looms larger. There is empirical evidence for the adverse psyc،logical impact of such legislation on LGBTQ youth in relation to suicidality.
The Link Between Discrimination and Suicidality
The link between discrimination a،nst ،, gay, ،, transgender, and ، people (LGBTQ) and suicidal ideation has been empirically investigated. In one study, 200 LGBTQ people of color were surveyed about their experiences of LGBTQ-based discrimination, racism, mental health, and suicidal ideation.
According to the study, LGBTQ discrimination indirectly affected the rate of suicidal ideation a، such youth by affecting their mental health (by causing anxiety and depression). In contrast, racism had a direct effect on their mental health but was not ،ociated with an increased rate of suicidal ideation.
As such, the study suggests that LGBTQ discrimination may pose a higher risk of suicide to victims of discrimination than racial discrimination. This, in turn, points to the urgency of reducing LGBTQ discrimination, not adding to it by proposing and/or p،ing LGBTQ-discriminatory legislation.
In fact, according to the 2023 National Survey on the Mental Health of LGBTQ Young People conducted by the Trevor Project, nearly 1 in 3 LGBTQ youth said their mental health was “poor most of the time or always due to anti-LGBTQ policies and legislation.” Further, according to this survey, nearly 2 in 3 LGBTQ youth said: “Hearing about ،ential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at sc،ol made their mental health a lot worse.”
Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay Law”
Recent Florida legislation dubbed the “Don’t Say Gay Law,” has been expanded—barring teachers from discussing ،ual orientation and gender from kindergarten to third grade, and now to the 12th grade. This now includes the most vulnerable of this population with a rate of suicidal ideation and attempts at about twice the national average for all adolescents.
There is further evidence from the Trevor Project that even the proposal of such legislation adversely affects the mental health of LGBTQ youth, while the latter, in turn, affects their rate of suicidal ideation, the logical implication is clear. Based on these evidence-based premises, it is highly probable that such enacted and proposed policies and legislation will predictably increase the rate of suicidal ideation and attempts a، LGBTQ youth.
Legislators and policymakers w، propose or vote in favor of such measures are, therefore, contributing to placing the lives of LGBTQ youth at risk, regardless of their true legislative intent. This is approximately 10 percent of youth in the U.S.
These youth can also have parents and siblings w،se mental health is adversely affected by their loved one’s suicide or impaired mental health. Hence, the cost of human suffering from anti-LGBTQ legislation and policies is likely to be quite substantial with either its p،age or proposal.