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Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids introduces bill to help LGBTQ+ youth with mental health

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Posted at 6:31 AM, Jun 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-02 16:20:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas Rep. Sharice Davids is wanting to help LGBTQ+ youth when it comes to their mental health with a new bill.

This comes as a new survey done by The Trevor Project wrote that nearly half (45%) of LGBTQ+ youth in the U.S. have "seriously considered" suicide in the past year.

Davids has named the bill the Pride in Mental Health Act.

It aims to:

  • Close information gaps
  • Increase mental health supports
  • Protect at-risk youth

To close information gaps, Davids outlined in a news release that data will be collected on "sexual orientation and gender identity and expression in incidences of child abuse and neglect and directing HHS to conduct a survey on the mental health of LGBTQ+ youth specifically."

Increasing mental health support will be represented through initiatives such as developing mental health resources, training caregivers and school bullying prevention guidelines.

"By commissioning a report on the mental health and mental health care of LGBTQ+ youth in foster care and other federal social services programs," Davids is confident she will be able to protect at-risk youth.

In the recent survey by The Trevor Project where 34,000 people ages 13-24 were surveyed, 73% reported symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and 58% reported major depressive disorder.

Other findings include that youth in LGBTQ-affirming schools reported lower rates of attempting suicide, youth in communities accepting of LGBTQ people reported "significantly lower rates" of attempting suicide than youth in non-accepting communities and youth who felt "high social support from their family" reported attempting suicide at less than half the rate of those who felt moderate support.

Davids hopes this bill makes a difference.

"You know I introduced this bill to make sure that we're getting the information that we need to begin so that we can actually address the issues that are happening because, whether we're talking about in our own community at home in Kansas or across the country, LGBTQ+ youth are just really, really struggling to navigate the world right now," Davids said.

KSHB 41 News spoke with Olivia Fleming. She identifies as bisexual and lives at Lion's House, a nonprofit LGBTQ-specific transitional and rapid rehousing program, according to the Lion House website.

Fleming believes there is a reason why teens are struggling.

"I feel like it's so high because, again, it has to do with a lot of trauma, and then the whole family aspect of it," Fleming said. "A lot of families don't accept, 'Oh, I am transitioning to be a different gender,' or, 'Oh, I like the same sex.' There are a lot of families that just don't understand it — they don't get it."

She says she was able to get access to mental health resources as a teen, but once she turned 18, it was harder to find. Fleming encourages teens and young adults to not give up if they are looking for help.

Davids is up for re-election. She is the only Democrat facing Libertarian Steve Hohe and Republicans Amanda Adkins and John McCaughrean.

The primary election is Aug. 2, in which Kansas will vote on the Value Them Both Amendment, and the general election is Nov. 8.