LGBTQ+ youth are at an enormously high risk of mental health conditions, suicide, homelessness, and poverty. Many of these challenges are caused and perpetuated by social rejection, stemming from caregivers, classmates, and — yes, policymakers.
Research shows that bullying and discrimination are key contributing factors to disproportionately high rates of socio-economic distress and mental illness among LGBTQ+ youth.
It is our job to protect our neighbors who are members of the LGBTQ+ community — especially youth who are exceedingly vulnerable to rejection and loss of support.
In fact, The Trevor Project — an organization that works to prevent suicide in LGBTQ+ youth — found that LGBTQ+ youth who reported having at least one accepting adult were 40 percent less likely to report a suicide attempt in 2019.
Creating safe, welcoming environments for LGTBQ+ youth to be their authentic selves is integral in protecting their futures and creating inclusive communities.
Lawmakers in Florida and Texas have recently introduced directives that do the exact opposite.
LGBTQ+ kids and teens are under attack in Florida and Texas
On Feb. 22, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a letter directing the state’s Department of Family and Protective Services to conduct investigations into families of trans and gender expansive youth who have received gender-affirming care, asserting that this care can “legally constitute child abuse.”
Abbott also implored licensed professionals and members of the public to report parents of trans youth, leading to potential prosecution.
In a similar vein, Florida’s House of Representatives has just passed a “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would ban classrooms from discussing LGBTQ+ topics that are not considered “age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate for students.” If the bill passes in the Senate, parents would also be able to take legal action by suing school districts that do not comply with the new legislation.
Unfortunately, these policies are reflective of a larger transphobic and homophobic rhetoric in American public policy. In 2021 alone, over 130 anti-trans bills were introduced into state legislatures, according to the Human Rights Campaign. These include 35 bills that would criminalize gender-affirming care.
The ACLU is also tracking similar bills introduced in 2022 — already seen in 17 state legislatures this year.
As unprecedented public policy targets LGBTQ+ youth, it is vital that trusted adults and advocates work to ensure the safety and affirmative care of these young people. We’ve compiled a list of resources to get you started.
How to support LGBTQ+ youth all the time
Regardless of whether there are ongoing legislative efforts seeking to impact LGBTQ+ youth, you always have the opportunity to make a difference. Here are a few of the best ways:
Increase your knowledge of the LGBTQ+ community and be an accepting ally
Becoming an informed advocate and ally for LGBTQ+ youth means taking a moment to consume content that will push us to learn, unlearn, and act.
Organizations like Out of Yer Shell and Trans Youth Equality Foundation provide comprehensive resource databases and support for transgender, gender non-conforming (GNC) youth, and their loved ones.
When speaking to a member of the LGBTQ+ community or fighting for policy change, it’s vital that we show up with a level of understanding and acceptance.
Donate to organizations that support gay and trans kids
Advocacy comes in many forms, and one of them is through funding organizations that are actively fighting to provide safe spaces and resources for LGBTQ+ youth.
Child Welfare Information Gateway — a service under the Children's Bureau, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services — offers an expanded list of K-12 advocacy and support organizations for LGBTQ+ youth.
Here are just a few of the many organizations focusing their efforts on this community:
The Trevor Project
The Trevor Project is the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ youth. Since its inception, they’ve helped thousands through their free services. They provide essential resources & support 24/7, all year round, as well as work with policymakers to pass legislation protecting young LGBTQ+ people.
The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
GLSEN seeks to assure that each member of every school community is valued and respected regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
GLSEN’s national network of educators, students, and local chapters work in tandem to develop supportive educators, comprehensive policies, inclusive curriculum, and support for students.
Transgender Law Center
Transgender Law Center (TLC) is the largest national trans-led organization supporting the trans community by providing legal expertise and advocating for safe and affirming spaces for trans youth.
Support and participate in ally trainings and education initiatives
Supporting and participating in ally trainings is another interactive way to deepen and expand your existing knowledge on LGBTQ+ youth. These trainings are often offered for different demographics, including caretakers and educators, healthcare providers, as well as individuals.
Organizations like The Trevor Project offer trainings that provide a basic framework for participants to explore their existing biases, build knowledge, and develop empathy in order to prevent suicide in LGBTQ+ youth.
Designate your home, classroom, or place of business as a safe space
Results from the 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) showed that LGBTQ+ youth are at an increased risk of being bullied or facing discrimination.
Though many external factors are out of our control, we can control how we show up within our immediate surroundings.
We do this by creating safe, affirming spaces in our homes, classrooms, or places of business. It’s also important to let LGBTQ+ youth know that you are a safe space. This can be done by hanging flags, signs, or other pride items, to identify your environment as an inclusive space.
Gender Spectrum provides educators with a Gender Inclusive School Toolkit which aims to create inclusive classroom environments for all children and teens.
Following similar frameworks or toolkits provides trans youth with the invitation to feel seen, valued, and heard — contrary to what they often face on a daily basis.
How to support LGBTQ+ youth in Texas
Contact elected officials in Texas to protect trans kids — here’s a script!
Texas Residents: Texas residents can find their representatives — specifically Greg Abbott’s office — and urge them to protect trans kids.
Here is a sample script to help you get started! Please note that this is only a sample, and we urge you to write or share something that is more meaningful or specific when speaking with your representatives.
Dear [representative’s name here],
My name is [your name goes here] and I am a constituent from [your address goes here]. I am reaching out to urge you to publicly denounce Governor Abbott’s directive regarding transgender youth.
This directive heavily discriminates against trans youth and prevents adults and healthcare providers from giving young transgender people the accurate and affirmative care they need. This directive could have deadly consequences. In fact, The Trevor Project found that the use of gender-affirming therapies is significantly related to lower rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts among transgender and nonbinary youth.
As a public servant, you have a responsibility to provide the LGBTQ+ youth of Texas the same care, access, and support as their straight, cisgender peers. Your constituents implore you to do the right thing to protect trans kids.
[Sign your name and include your zip code here]
Any American: Resistbot also has a template that quickly and easily sends text messages to your elected officials, asking U.S. Congress members to protect trans kids.
Support the Transgender Education Network of Texas
The Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT) is an organization dedicated to furthering gender-diverse equality in Texas. Through education and networking initiatives, TENT strives to halt discrimination through social, legislative, and corporate efforts. They offer an emergency relief fund, resources for trans youth, and a number of safe and accessible community engagement activities. Donate to support their work.
Donate to Equality Texas
Equality Texas works to secure full equality for LGBTQ+ Texans through political action, education, community organizing, and collaboration. They offer a variety of civic engagement events and volunteer opportunities, but often work specifically in the Texas legislature to help citizens get involved and advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. Support their work by donating online.
Donate to Organización Latina de Trans Texas (OLTT)
Organización Latina de Trans Texas (OLTT) is a community-based organization made of trans women of the Latinx community. They work to increase visibility to advocate for the human rights and well-being of trans people in Texas. Volunteers support OLTT through legal assistance, outreach tasks, research projects, and more. Support their mission by donating.
How to support LGBTQ+ youth in Florida
Contact elected officials in Florida to advocate for LGBTQ+ youth — here’s a script!
Florida Residents: Florida residents can find their representatives online, and contact them via phone or email. Here is a sample script to help you get started! Please note that this is only a sample, and we urge you to write or share something more meaningful and specific when speaking with your representatives.
Dear [Insert representative’s name here],
My name is [your name goes here] and I am a constituent from [your address goes here]. I am calling to strongly oppose the Parental Rights in Education Bill — or the “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
This bill wrongly discriminates against LGBTQ+ youth and prevents adults from providing students with accurate and affirmative educational materials. When lawmakers treat LGBTQ+ topics as taboo, they tell young LGBTQ+ people that their identities are stigmatized and discriminated against, leading to higher rates of suicide, depression, and bullying in Florida schools.
We have a responsibility to the youth of our state to provide safe, inclusive, and welcoming learning environments for all.
[Sign your name and include your zip code here]
Any American: You can contact your local, state, or federal elected officials and tell them you’re heartbroken over what’s happening in Texas and Florida — and that you want to ensure similar legislation isn’t enacted in your community.
Support Equality Florida
Much like Equality Texas, Equality Florida is an organization advocating for the full equality of LGBTQ+ Floridians. This is done through public policy advocacy, LGBTQ+ protections in all areas of public life, working towards safe and healthy school environments for LGBTQ+ youth, HIV advocacy, gun violence prevention, and more. Supporters can donate to the organization online, seek volunteer opportunities — and even shop — to help their mission.
Donate to the onePULSE Foundation
After the tragic mass shooting at Orlando’s PULSE nightclub in 2016, the onePULSE Foundation was developed. While the organization’s main purpose is to memorialize the lives lost in this act of hateful violence, onePULSE also offers 49 annual scholarships to young people who show a love of community service, leadership, and advocacy. Programs also include a social justice academy, as well as family days for families and survivors of LBGTQ+ hate crimes to support one another and build new traditions.
Support their work with a donation.
Support youth LGBTQ+ organization JASMYN
JASMYN is an organization based in Jacksonville, Florida that supports and empowers LGBTQ+ youth by creating safe spaces and services, development opportunities, and resources that promote equality and human rights. They provide student support and health services, as well as housing support, family engagement, and direct contact to support staff via Discord. Support their events, programming, and advocacy work by making a donation.
How to fight anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide
Support and learn more from Step Up
Step Up, from the Transformations Project, is an initiative that compiles a database of anti-trans legislation in the United States to help track and educate folks on the transphobic legislative crisis sweeping the country. Folks can search by state to find anti-trans legislation, identify, and contact their representatives. Supporters can donate to their mission online.
Support activists seeking to ban conversion therapy
Although a number of lawmakers are bringing anti-LGBTQ+ policy to their states, others are working to protect LGBTQ+ youth. One major way to do this is by banning conversion therapy, which encompasses a number of practices that attempt to change someone’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
Currently, 20 states and 100 municipalities ban conversion therapy, but a number of lawmakers are working to grow that number with every legislative session. You can support these efforts in your area, or support organizations like Born Perfect and GLAAD.
Sign the Human Rights Campaign’s petition
One quick and easy way to make your voice heard is by signing the Human Rights Campaign’s petition, telling state legislators to stop attacking LGBTQ+ communities. Signing this petition will also give you important updates from the Human Rights Campaign, which is one of the leading national organizations protecting the lives and futures of LGBTQ+ people in America.
Support the ACLU
The American Civil Liberties Union is a longstanding legal organization that supports the human rights of Americans through law and policy. They help track anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and give community members the resources to fight back.