Trigger Warning: This post discusses suicide.
This September, HRC marks National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month by reaffirming our commitment to support the wellbeing of LGBTQ youth and adults.
Though this support can come in many forms, HRC recognizes the fundamental role parents play in fostering a safe and inclusive community for young people.
According to a 2016 study published in LGBT Health, family rejection increases the odds of substance misuse and suicide attempts in transgender and gender non-conforming people. These results mirror research by Dr. Caitlin Ryan and the Family Acceptance Project, which found that LGBTQ youth whose families affirm their gender identity and sexual orientation are almost 50 percent less likely to make a suicide attempt compared to those whose families are unsupportive.
Acknowledging the importance of parental support within the LGBTQ community, last year HRC launched the Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a national committee of parent-advocates fighting for transgender equality. Their work builds upon insights gained from parents and family members of LGBTQ children within the larger HRC network, including those who participated in HRC’s #LoveYourNeighbor video campaign.
By sharing their stories as parents of LGBTQ children who have been affected by suicide, we hope to amplify the voices of love, inclusion and support for the LGBTQ community, particularly to those currently at risk.
Joanne Lee is a member of the Parents for Transgender Equality Council. Her two children were assigned female at birth, but both came out as transgender males in 2014. At first, Lee did not accept her transgender sons. But in 2015, after one of Lee’s sons, Skyler, took his own life due to depression, her outlook completely changed.
Marsha Aizumi shared her touching story as mother of a transgender son at HRC’s 2016 Time to THRIVE conference. Her journey to accept her transgender son led her to advocate for full equality of all LGBTQ people.
For parents looking for resources on how to support LGBTQ youth, HRC's Welcoming Schools program provides tools and resources for parents, educators and administrators focused on making schools inclusive for all children and families.
If you or someone you know may be at risk of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. The Trevor Project provides support for LGBTQ youth, and their 24-hour crisis hotline can be reached at 1-866-488-7386. If you are a transgender person of any age, call the Trans Lifeline at (877) 565-8860
To learn more about supporting LGBTQ youth in their homes, schools and communities, visit www.hrc.org/youth.