Home Youth service OP-ED | LGBTQ youth are at risk across the country; Connecticut should be their shield

OP-ED | LGBTQ youth are at risk across the country; Connecticut should be their shield

Pride rally in Hartford. Credit: File photo of Doug Hardy
Susan Bigelow

This year, all of a sudden, LGBTQ rights are pushed back to the one place where openness, inclusion, and acceptance do the most good: classrooms across the country. What are we going to do about it?

Being a queer kid has never been easy. Trust me, I know; growing up in the 80s and 90s as a kid who didn’t exactly conform to gender norms was no fun. For a while, however, things seemed to be looking up. Acceptance of LGBTQ people has steadily increased increased, and issues that were once extremely divisive, such as same-sex marriage, are favored by large majorities. More Gen Zers identify as queer than any other generation: 1 in 5 Gen Z adults report being LGBTQ. It’s not because they’re brainwashed or some other right-wing scum, but because it’s safer to explore sexuality and gender identity now than it ever has been, and that coming out is much, much less dangerous.

That doesn’t mean all is well though. the 2021 Trevor Project Survey of LGBTQ youth discovered that these children still experience a lot of stress because of who they are. Seventy-five percent said they had experienced discrimination based on their sexuality or gender identity; 70% said their mental health was “poor”; and 42% have seriously considered suicide, including more than half of trans children. The terrible rise of right-wing politics that targets young gay people has also taken its toll; A staggering and sobering 94% of respondents said the current policy had a negative impact on their mental health.

For the past few months, conservative governors and lawmakers have happily thrown gasoline on the bonfire. What started as a moral twist on trans kids in school sports quickly turned into broader attacks, like Florida’s new ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill that limits any form of people-mentioning. , families, or LGBTQ issues in classrooms through 3rd grade. , and an ugly and heartbreaking Texas law that requires families to allow their trans children to receive any type of gender-affirming medical care. investigation for child abuse.

Supposedly, these laws are meant to protect our children, but I don’t see how being able to talk about one family — but not another — helps anyone. And when it comes to young trans people getting medical care, that mostly takes the form of something called puberty blockers, which are safe and fully reversible.

Yes, despite what you may have heard from the right, puberty blockers are on the whole very safe, especially for short-term use. Puberty blockers do just that; they delay puberty and its effects. This can make the social transition much easier and can give children and their families leeway in determining what next steps, if any, they want to take. If they decide the transition isn’t working for them, they get off the blockers and puberty resumes as it would have.

For this, Texas wants to investigate and punish the families. Trans children could be separated from loving and supportive homes and thrown into the unknown dangers of the foster care system.

It’s getting worse. A Texas the teacher was recently fired by his district just for putting up Pride rainbow stickers. There’s a new invoice in Missouri that would ban gender-affirming medical care not just for teenagers, but for anyone up to age 25. And in Florida, the Department of Health has informed not only against medical transition, but social transition for trans youth.

The goal, it seems, is not to protect the children, but to force them back into the closet. I can’t help wondering if it’s cruelty that counts.

All of this is happening in other states, some very far away. What can a small northeastern state like Connecticut do?

Connecticut’s new abortion rights law would protect anyone who comes here for an abortion from another state, as well as the doctors who treat them, from that state’s anti-abortion laws. We can do something very similar for trans children and their families from across the states who come here. A cross-shield law would prohibit cooperation with outside law enforcement in seeking family information and prevent the arrest or extradition of families and providers.

New York is already considering such a law, and the same applies California. We can do the same. This would send a strong signal that Connecticut is safe.

We can do more, of course. We can welcome trans children and their families who leave these states, we can help them find housing and settle down. We can be our usual self-live-and-let-live.

And to those who want to persecute, harass and condemn homosexuals to silence, know this:

We are always here. We have always been here. We will be there in the days to come, and beyond. We will survive you.

You will not win.