Anti-LGBTQ+ bills causing huge decline in mental health for queer youth, study finds

A protestors holds up a sign reading 'trans rights are human rights.'

Queer youth are paying the price of the huge number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in the US with poor mental health, according to a study by The Trevor Project.

Less than a month into 2023 and the US has introduced well over 100 damning bills in 23 states.

Some states have enacted restrictions on things such as gender-affirming care, which has been proven to be beneficial for young trans people, according to research.

A survey undertaken by The Trevor Project  found that 71 per cent of young LGBTQ+ people in the US – and 86 per cent of trans and non-binary youth – said that recent debates about restricting laws have had a negative impact on their mental health.

And 75 per cent of LGBTQ+ youth (82 per cent trans and non-binary) said reports of violence against LGBTQ+ spaces resulted in stress or anxiety.

It also found 67 per cent of young trans and non-binary people felt anger at policies that require schools to tell a student’s parents or guardian if they request to use different names and pronouns.

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Police brutality in the US has also contributed to the decline of young people’s mental health, with 65 per cent reporting it was damaging to see.

In the survey, 716 LGBTQ+ people people, aged 13-24, were questioned about their response to the rise in anti-LGBTQ+ actions by US lawmakers.

It has been proven that supportive legislation and initiatives put in place for trans and non-binary young people can make a huge difference. Despite this, politicians in the US – predominantly Republicans – are constantly harassing trans people with anti-LGBTQ+ bills and laws.

‘Ugly public debates’

“Right now, we are witnessing the highest number on record of anti-LGBTQ bills introduced this early in any legislative session,” said Kasey Suffredini, a vice-president of advocacy and government affairs at The Trevor Project.

“We must consider the negative toll of these ugly public debates on youth mental health and well-being. LGBTQ young people are watching, and internalising the anti-LGBTQ messages they see in the media and from their elected officials.

“And so are those [who] would do our community harm.”

Trans youth are being alienated further by their parents because of the policies and legislations

An anonymous trans young person told The Trevor Project the policies were another “excuse” for their parents to alienate them further.

They said: “The policies] have caused me great anxiety. I have attempted to get top surgery in the past year and my parents used these discussions as an excuse to further alienate me.

“They made me feel so pathetic and stupid. As a trans person, they’ve impacted me greatly. I’m terrified to even use the bathroom in public.”

Another said: “It makes me angry and upset and not very optimistic for the future of trans people.

“It makes me worried for my life and safety. I am trans, so these policies have made me feel like I am losing my rights.”

Primarily aimed at transgender young people, the bills continue the trend of transphobia which currently plagues the US.

In the past three years, according to the LGBTQ+ think tank, Movement Advancement Project, 18 states have banned transgender students from competing on school sports teams that align with their chosen gender.

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