Texas removes life-saving LGBT+ suicide prevention resources from state websites

Texas Governor Greg Abbott

The Texas department of health and human services has removed suicide prevention resources for LGBT+ youth from its website.

NBC News reported that on 1 February, the department’s suicide prevention page listed four organisations “for people who are at risk of suicide” – The Suicide Prevention Lifeline, The Veterans Crisis Line, Crisis Text Line and The Trevor Project, a suicide prevention and crisis intervention charity for LGBT+ young people.

But by 5 February, The Trevor Project had disappeared. It was the only resource that was removed from the page.

The charity is still listed as a resource on a downloadable Youth Suicide Prevention PDF, but it is far less accessible, and is not marked as an LGBT-specific organisation.

Sam Ames, director of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project, told NBC News that removing resources “because they are specific to LGBTQ youth is not only offensive and wrong, it’s dangerous”.

Ames continued: “We’re talking about a group of young people who are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to their peers.

“Especially during this time of unprecedented political attacks against LGBTQ youth, we encourage all youth-serving organisations and government agencies to learn more about The Trevor Project’s lifesaving crisis services and to publicise them to the youth and families who most need support.”

Within the last year, Texas’ attacks on LGBT+ folk, particularly trans kids, has accelerated alarmingly, from the closure of the only public gender clinic for young trans people in the state, to banning LGBT-inclusive books from libraries, to the relentless bills targeting trans youth. 

Just last week, Texas governor Greg Abbott, who has already overseen a ban on trans kids playing sports, hit out at gender-affirming healthcare, comparing it to “child abuse”.

Days after the state’s attorney general Ken Paxton described life-saving puberty blockers as “child abuse” and compared gender-affirming surgery to female genital mutilation, Abbott sent a letter to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services that blocking healthcare for trans kids would be the same as “protecting children from abuse”.

Abbott instructed the department “to conduct prompt and thorough investigations of any reported instances of Texas children being subjected to abusive gender-transitioning procedures”.

Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote on Twitter: “This is an absolute nightmare… What [Paxton and Abbott] are doing is terrifying.

“They are scaring kids, their families and their doctors into believing they will be investigating if they affirm their trans children and patients.

“This will cause severe stress and anxiety, could limit medical care, will discourage parents from loving and supporting their kids and could lead to illegal investigations into families.”

Speaking to NPREmmett Schelling, the executive director of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, added: “The state leadership has said, ‘We would rather see dead children … instead of happy, loved, supported, thriving trans kids that are alive and well.”