All across America, we are seeing state legislatures attack the LGBTQIA+ community. According to the ACLU, at least 417 anti-LGBTQIA+ bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the United States this year. That’s more than double the amount introduced in all of 2022, and closer to three times the amount introduced in 2021 (Choi, 2023). This hateful rhetoric and legislation has had a profoundly negative impact on many things, but I wanted to briefly focus on the negative impact these legislative attacks have had on the mental health of LGBTQIA+ people.
The Trevor Project is a fantastic resource for LGBTQIA+ youth mental health statistics, resources on things such as coming out, and also provides 24/7 crisis counseling. You can contact them 24/7 via live chat, phone (1-866-488-7386), or text (678-678). In early 2023, they provided some statistics on how this hateful attack is impacting LGBTQIA+ youth mental health. Here are some of the key findings from the Trevor Project poll, administered in late 2022 with a sample size of 716 LGBTQIA+ youth ages 13-24:
- “86% of transgender and nonbinary youth say recent debates about state laws restricting the rights of transgender people have negatively impacted their mental health. A majority of those trans youth (55%) said it impacted their mental health “very negatively.”
- “71% of LGBTQ youth — including 86% of trans and nonbinary youth — say state laws restricting the rights of LGBTQ young people have negatively impacted their mental health.”
- “75% of LGBTQ youth — including 82% of transgender and nonbinary youth — say that threats of violence against LGBTQ spaces, such as community centers, pride events, drag shows, or hospitals/clinics that serve transgender people, often give them stress or anxiety. Nearly half (48%) of those LGBTQ youth reported it gives them stress or anxiety ‘very often.’” (Trevor Project, 2023).
These key findings reiterate what we already knew: discrimination negatively impacts a demographic’s mental health in major ways. When the ability to live out one’s identity fully and authentically is threatened time and time again by anti-LGBTQIA+ legislators, it is only natural that it would impact one’s mental health in negative ways. One of the saddest parts of this is: this is preventable. Legislators across the United States are choosing to discriminate against a community that just wants to live completely free of violence and discrimination. These anti-LGBTQIA+ legislators are not being forced to pass slates of hate- they are doing it of their own free will. Now is the time for the strongest forms of allyship and advocacy for the LGBTQIA+ community. Call your political leaders. Peacefully protest. Be outspoken. Particularly in Tennessee, Governor Lee and the supermajority need to keep hearing from us. America will not truly be the land of the free until all Americans, including LGBTQIA+ Americans of all ages, are unrestricted in their ability to live out their authentic identity.
Choi, A. (2023, April 6). Record number of anti-LGBTQ bills have been introduced this year. CNN.
The Trevor Project. (2023, January 20). New Poll Emphasizes Negative Impacts of Anti-LGBTQ Policies on LGBTQ Youth.