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This week, September 5-11, is National Suicide Prevention Week, and it is time to take action to protect LGBTQ youths from the hurtful environments that drive the heightened risk for suicide. We must address the issue of bullying in today's schools -- that is why the Trevor Project is a strong advocate for the Safe Schools Improvement Act.
This legislation would require antibullying policies in schools across all 50 states that prohibit bullying anyone, including those mistreated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It would also create a federal definition of bullying, require reporting processes to be in place, and encourage educators to have professional development on bullying.
Not long ago, a member of the Trevor Project's Youth Advisory Council shared a story with our staff. As a Youth Advisory Council member, he had received training to be a Lifeguard Workshop Facilitator (our in-school program), recognizing the warning signs of suicide and responding in a concerned way that connects the young person to the support available to them. Using the training he received, he had saved the life of another young man who had been bullied at school and was feeling like suicide might end his pain.
Fostering personal connections as in the story above is important, but so is larger systemic change. It only took one young leader to take action and save a life, but if the rest of us act, we can save thousands of young LGBTQ people. It's time for our community to step up and save lives -- we need to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act and protect our younger LGBTQ family.
LGBTQ youths are four times as likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers, because of the ways they are far too often treated at home, in their communities, and in their schools. Contact your senator and U.S. representative today and ask them to support the Safe Schools Improvement Act. Our future depends on us.