Combat LGBTQ+ Youth Suicide and Homelessness

At town hall in Forsyth County in June, I was asked about LGBTQ homelessness and suicide. This is an ongoing tragedy that deserves our full attention.

The suicide and homelessness rates for LGBTQ youth are incredibly high. 40% of LGBTQ youth say that they have “seriously considered” suicide in the last year and as much as 40% of unhoused youth are LGBTQ.

Here’s what we should do about it:

Start by recognizing that these two issues are connected

Housing insecurity leads to a spike in anxiety as well as exposure to harmful environments, like abusive relationships or human trafficking. Stabilizing housing is the key to being able to deliver social services, but it’s also the key to the people who need those services actually being able to hear and receive them. As a pastor in Harnett County who focuses his ministry on housing told me, “Until you take people out of survival mode, there’s no reaching them. They can’t hear you about anything else.”

Fully fund our Housing Choice Vouchers

This would be a game-changer not just for youth homelessness, but for folks living in poverty all across the country. That’s why it’s a big part of our affordable housing agenda.

Increase access to mental health services in our schools

Every school must have sufficient psychologists, nurses, social workers, and counselors to meet with every student in need of their services. This is legislation I’ve supported at the state level and we’ve made some progress, but we have more to do and should make it a priority – especially with all our students coming back from experiencing a pandemic

Strengthen the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act

We should expand its protections to young people who are highly vulnerable to human trafficking – like our LGBTQ youth – and authorize funding for state and local programs to help provide transitional housing with mental and physical health care and crisis intervention for homeless youth.

Pass the Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act

This would require colleges and universities receiving federal student aid funding to enact an anti-harassment policy and would establish a grant program to support those programs.

Reauthorize and Strengthen the Violence Against Women Act 

VAWA should be reauthorized with new provisions to include protections for LGBTQ individuals, particularly survivors of domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault.

Ban so-called “conversion therapy” 

Conversion therapy is a fraudulent practice that has harmed hundreds of thousands of young people. We should ban this practice entirely by passing the Therapeutic Fraud Prevention Act