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Mental health of LGBTQ youth worsening in current "hostile political climate," survey finds

The mental health of LGBTQ youth is worsening in the current political climate, according to the results of a national survey released Monday by The Trevor Project

Nearly one in three LGBTQ young people surveyed said their mental health was poor most of the time or always due to legislation and policies targeting the LGBTQ community in states across the U.S. Nearly two in three LGBTQ young people said that "hearing about potential state or local laws banning people from discussing LGBTQ people at school (also known as 'Don't Say Gay') made their mental health a lot worse." 

The nonprofit organization —which has been working since 1998 "to end suicide among LGBTQ young people"— reported that 41% of LGBTQ young people seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Yet, 56% who wanted help couldn't find it, the survey found, indicating that access to mental health care is extremely limited for LGBTQ youth.

This is the fifth annual survey from The Trevor Project, but the first time in such a "hostile political climate when anti-LGBTQ legislation is at an all time high this year," said Ronita Nath, vice president of research for The Trevor Project.

Nath told CBS News that America's LGBTQ youth are "grappling with a mental health crisis." 

Anti-LGBTQ legislation is taking "a detrimental toll on their mental health," forcing them to be involved in "debates about their existence they don't want to be involved in the first place," Nath added. 

There are currently 469 anti-LGBTQ bills in state legislatures across the nation, according to a digital tracker maintained by the ACLU. States such as Texas, Florida, Tennessee and Mississippi have bills targeting the LGBTQ community currently making their way through their legislatures, according to the digital tracker.

Javier Gomez, 19, a queer activist from Miami, Florida, told CBS News that his mental health had gotten worse by living in a state where lawmakers are attempting to pass several anti-LGBTQ laws. Gomez said there were days when he and his peers felt "futile and hopeless."

He has thought about moving, but says there are millions of "beautiful, queer,  transgender and nonbinary people living in Florida,"  and he wants to "fight for my beloved state and my home." 

"We need to start listening and hearing how these bills are affecting us," Gomez said.

For trans youth, the stakes are even higher. So far in 2023, at least 528 anti-trans bills have been introduced nationwide, according to the Trans Legislation Tracker, with 50 bills passed. On Friday, Montana became one of at least 15 states to ban or restrict gender-affirming medical care for trans youth.

Nearly half of trans youth considered suicide this year, the survey found. Among the small percentage of transgender and nonbinary young people who receive gender-affirming medical care, nearly two in three were worried about losing access to this care, the survey found. 

Vic Gipson, a support specialist with the nonprofit group Stand With Trans, told CBS News legislation that the more states push to restrict care access for trans youth, "the more their health deteriorates out of hesitation to seek care."

"Right now, youth need legislators to stand with them, not against them," Gipson said.

The Trevor Project surveyed 28,524 LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 who live in the U.S. Of those surveyed, 85% said they paid attention to media reports about LGBTQ rights.

In the final survey question, the Trevor Project asked respondents to describe what a world would look like "where all LGBTQ people are accepted."  

Some of the answers included "peaceful, "normal," "happy" and "they can be who they want to be."

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal, you can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by calling or texting 988. You can also chat online with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.

For more information about mental health care resources and support, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–10 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or email

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