What you have proposed will have tragic consequences.
There is one data point to keep in mind as this egregious new policy is debated and implemented: a young LGBTQ person attempts suicide every 45 seconds in America.
Every 45 seconds.
Research consistently shows that LGBTQ youth in America are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide than their peers. Among trans or nonbinary American youth, the outlook is darker still. Transgender and nonbinary youth are more than twice as likely to seriously consider or attempt suicide compared to their other LGBQ peers.
Research also consistently shows that young LGBTQ Americans report lower rates of attempted suicide when they have access to safe and affirming environments. In particular, attempted suicide rates dropped when LGBTQ youth found their schools to be welcoming and affirming of their identity. A peer-reviewed study published in 2021 found that transgender and nonbinary youth who reported gender identity acceptance from at least one adult in their lives were 33% less likely to report a suicide attempt in the past year. Put another way, trans students who are not respected and accepted by the adults in their lives — particularly those they interact with most at school — are 33% more likely to commit suicide than trans students who are welcomed and supported at school.
The research is clear. The data does not lie. If Virginia moves ahead with this policy — one that mandates school environments that are inherently unwelcoming and unaccepting of LGBTQ youth — trans and nonbinary students in our Commonwealth will face a significantly greater risk of suicide than their peers. Rather than do all you can to keep Virginia students alive and well, you are headed down a path of guaranteed pain and heartache for this already vulnerable group of young people.
This policy is fundamentally wrong and its outcomes tragically unacceptable. It helps no one, but it harms many. There is no justification for such transparent cruelty in Virginia.
Congressman Gerald E. Connolly
Virginia’s 11th District