A panel of young people discussed their experiences as LGBTQ+ people at the City Club of Cleveland today, at a time when state legislatures are increasingly creating laws they believe target LGBTQ+ youth.
In Ohio, as in other states, there is a number of laws under consideration in the Ohio Legislature that impact LGBTQ+ youth. House Bill 454, for example, would ban gender-affirming health care for young people under 18 – care it is recommended for transgender youth by the American Academy of Pediatricians, among other national health care advocacy organizations.
Meanwhile, the State Board of Education must vote on A resolution On Tuesday, this rails against the Biden administration’s proposed Title IX regulations that would extend protections to LGBTQ+ students.
Dan Rice, a transgender man who is an undergraduate student at Baldwin Wallace University and trans youth ambassador for the Alabama chapter of the Human Rights Campaign, told the panel that he was suicidal for a long time. part of his youth. He called the gender-affirming health care he received “life-saving”.
“It was only when I was able to be accepted by the people I love and get the care I needed that since receiving that care, I haven’t thought about suicide at all. “, did he declare.
Forum moderator Ken Schneck, editor of the Buckeye Flame and independent contributor to Ideastream Public Media, said studies show LGBTQ+ youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers. But when they had access to “LGBTQ+ affirmation spaces,” they reported fewer suicide attempts, Schneck said, citing research of the Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on LGBTQ+ suicide prevention efforts.
Alex Carbone, a gender fluid teenager who uses “they/them” pronouns and is a senior at Hudson High School, said he’s worried about younger students who may have to navigate growing up LGBTQ+ under new restrictive state laws . Emma Curd, a Hoover High School senior who was also on the panel, said she agreed.
Specifically, she was most concerned about House Bill 616, which mirrors Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill and prohibits schools from teaching so-called “dividing concepts” around race, sexual orientation or gender identity.
“I’m just scared for our younger generations and the people who still have to go through this whole thing in high school and elementary school,” she said.
Amanda Erickson, Education and Training Manager for Kaleidoscope Youth Centera Columbus-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting LGBTQ+ youth, said House Bill 616 does not specifically identify what some of these “dividing concepts” are.
“It’s really kind of a bill to control what we teach students in our classrooms to fit a very, very specific mold of what a minority of people would want to learn in public schools,” she said.
Rice said LGBTQ+ identities need to be included in the school curriculum.
“I didn’t learn the term transgender until I was in seventh grade, although that was my experience,” Rice said. “And I felt so incredibly alone. And when you don’t see yourself represented, you either feel like you don’t exist or you shouldn’t exist.
Schneck noted at least two invoices – including House Bill 722called the “Parents Bill of Rights” – have language that would require teachers to “disclose” students to their parents, which can have harmful repercussions for students when parents do not support their identity.
When it comes to how to support LGBTQ+ students, panelists said the main thing people can do is make the effort to get to know them and their identities.
“We’ll help you, we’ll go with you,” Curd said. “We’ll learn with you, basically.”
The City Club panel was held in partnership with Honesty for Ohio Educationa nonpartisan Ohio coalition that opposes efforts to “restrict and censor education around the history and legacy of racism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, classism and other forms of discrimination”.