Chicago — Nearly half of Texas’ LGBTQ youths considered suicide in the past year, according to the Trevor Project.
In a new survey by the national LGBTQ mental health nonprofit, 34,000 LGBTQ youths ages 13-24 helped provide a snapshot of how young people are experiencing mental health issues, struggling to access treatment and being exposed to discrimination or environments that are unsupportive, Yahoo News reported.
About 47% of those surveyed in Texas have seriously contemplated suicide in the past year while 16% attempted it, according to the Trevor Project.
The Trevor Project’s data don’t draw any conclusions about the factors behind the results seen in each state, but Ricardo Martinez, CEO of the LGBTQ rights nonprofit Equality Texas, said there is a direct correlation between the results in Texas and the current social, cultural and political environment.
“When you live in a state where LGBTQ people are under siege, not only at the Legislature, where we're setting records in terms of the number of anti-LGBTQ bills that are being filed, but then the weaponization of state agencies … then the dehumanization continues at the school board level … it doesn't surprise me that the situation would be so dire at the moment for students' mental health,” said Martinez.
The survey results come in the wake of a slew of legislative efforts centered around transgender rights in Texas that have garnered criticism from LGBTQ community members and advocates.
In 2021, Texas lawmakers passed a bill requiring transgender students to play on sports teams that align with their gender assigned at birth rather than their gender identity, which Martinez called a direct attack on students. Earlier this year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton directed the Department of Family and Protective Services to investigate cases of transgender children receiving gender-affirming care as child abuse.
The latter convinced Karen, mother of an 11-year-old transgender girl and another child who is 9, that it was time to move.
“The experience was traumatizing," said Karen, who asked to be identified only by her first name, and not to share her children’s names, out of concern for her family’s safety.
"Among everyone in the community, among trans people, and among the people who love them and provide care for them, there was a great sense of panic," said Karen, who now lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.
L.F., mother of an 8-year-old transgender daughter and a 14-year-old girl who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community, said the threat of a possible DFPS investigation meant their family had to take steps to protect their youngest daughter.
“It's just a lot of stress. It's taken all of our joy away because when you have to think about leaving or moving or even just like, ‘What's going to happen tomorrow?’ or ‘Am I safe in this new community’ ... you don't have a lot of room for all the joy and ease and peace in life,” said L.F. who currently lives in Texas . “You (go into) almost like survival mode and hyper vigilant of your surroundings, and it's really exhausting. … We don't deserve this.”
State lawmakers have filed numerous LGBTQ-related bills for consideration in the upcoming 88th legislative session. They include ones that classify gender-affirming care as child abuse, a version of Florida’s "Don’t Say Gay" bill and a bill banning the changing of certain minors’ sex on their birth certificate.