At a Texas school, LGBTQ teens call the onslaught of hate laws a “life and death matter.”

For 17-year-old Kayla (her name has been changed to protect her identity), showing up is a matter of survival. But faced with the possibility of being kicked out of her home and denied related mental health resources at her school, and facing anti-LGBTQ policies in Texas, Kayla decided to stay quiet about it. Her strange identity, she said, occasionally has suicidal thoughts.

“There wasn’t anyone I could really talk to all this time,” Kayla said. “I don’t want to be a burden to others. So just sitting with those thoughts is definitely not healthy for me. I definitely don’t want to live on this earth anymore.”

Crisis calls from Texas youth to Project Trevor, a suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ youth, has jump up more than 150% in the past year, the organization said. While the spike can’t be attributed to a specific cause, the culture wars targeting gay youth in Texas have escalated – in one recent example, a suburban high school student Houston has faced parental internet access to LGBTQ resources and materials.

Cameron Samuels, a classmate of Kayla’s at Seven Lakes High School in Katy, Texas – a community of about 22,000 people just west of Houston – showed up at a school board meeting last month to ask school district removed an internet filter on LGBTQ mental health resources, but was engulfed by calls from parents to remove books with LGBTQ content and their request to enforce the House probe Texas State Scholar Matt Krause on race and sex-related titles

Samuels, an 18 year old 12th grader, and other students collected 1,000 student signatures on petition urges the district to remove a firewall on high school internet service that blocks a variety of LGBTQ-directed online resources, including suicide prevention-related pages, and to expand anti-discrimination policies district treatment and anti-bullying to include LGBTQ students.

“It’s a matter of life or death,” Samuels said at the December school board meeting, live streaming on the Katy school board website.

RELATED: Republicans’ war on education is the most important part of their push for fascism

According to its National 2021 survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, the Trevor Project reported that LGBTQ youth are four times more likely to consider or attempt suicide than their average peers. Among LGBTQ respondents, 42 percent said they had considered suicide in the last year, while 94 percent said recent political developments had negatively affected their mental health. Nicholas Turton, the organization’s communications director, reports that more than 14,500 of the 201,000 crisis calls received in 2021 alone were from LGBTQ youth in Texas, a 150% increase from the previous year. While the increase in crisis calls cannot be attributed to a specific cause, the Trevor Project notes that transgender and non-bisexual youth in Texas have directly stated that they are stressed, self-harm and suicide considerations due to anti-LGBTQ legislation being debated (or enacted) in their state.

During the 2021 legislative session, Texas lawmakers introduced 75 anti-LGBTQ pieces of legislation, including more than 40 bills that specifically target transgender and non-bisexual youth – than than any other state in America

  • August 31: Texas Department of Family and Protective Services remove information about suicide prevention hotlines and legal services for LGBTQ youth from the organization’s website.
  • September 1st: Texas House Bill 25, a regulation that prohibits transgender youth from participating in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity, went into effect, along with HB 3979, which limits the way race is taught in schools.
  • October 25: Krause launched a investigation likely to result in the removal of 850 titles with LGBTQ and antisemitism content. This effort has spread to public libraries in Texas.
  • November 10: Governor Greg Abbott command The Texas Education Agency targets schools that provide students with material that includes “pornography,” citing books with LGBTQ content.
  • November 19: Texas State Board of Education rejected Calls for information on LGBTQ bullying, sexual orientation and gender identity to be included in health education curricula.

State efforts to limit access to LGBTQ resources have also inspired local school board politics.

Parents at the recent Katy Independent School Board meeting cited explicit pornography from several books as the reason for executing Krause’s book investigation. LGBTQ students responded by saying their call to be protected under applicable anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policies, reflected in curriculum, and access to mental health resources God is being sexized. Late last year, Katy County changed the internet filter that blocks LGBTQ mental health sources from “alternative sexual lifestyles” to “human sexuality”.

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High school student Cameron Samuels said: “People say that LGBTQ sources like the Trevor Project are inherently sexual, when in reality they are not. “We searched several sites that were related to human sexuality, but intended for common people. For example, the sites about marriage, Planned Parenthood, RAINN and all of those sites have it. accessible. So it shows that human sexuality is only harmful if it’s homosexuality.”

“It’s hard not being able to be completely honest and be yourself with the most important people in your life,” said Grace, 18, another Seven Lakes student who started the petition to have it removed. remove internet firewall and no. wants her identity revealed. “My mental health took a hit in high school. I couldn’t access any mental health treatment or therapy,”

During a Katy County board meeting in November that went live and posted On the district’s website, parents expressed frustration at what they said was an increasing number of teenagers openly identifying as LGBTQ.

“I can’t even recognize this district,” said parent Karen Perez. “I’m asking you, board, what has changed? How did this happen? See how our library’s propaganda works on impressionist minds. We need parents in The library committee examines these books.”

Another parent at a December board meeting called for any material or discussion related to gender and sexuality to be removed from the school curriculum and for parental control at home. .

“Katy ISD, stay away from our child’s sexuality,” said parent Claudia Turcott. “The education system was created to teach reading, writing, math and science.”

Kayla says that many LGBTQ students don’t feel that they can explore their gender and sexuality issues at home.

“Schools are often a safe haven for students,” she said. “Their Wi-Fi is being monitored at home or their search history is being tracked. They don’t feel safe looking up resources at home. I was always taught at home that if you were human other than normal/heterosexual then you won’t visit heaven.I remember a girl came to our church group.As soon as she left the bathroom, our group leader started talking about how gays are going to hell. It’s really scary. I’m still young, and I’m still dependent on my parents. I can’t risk being kicked out or given up right now. hour. ”

According to Trevor Project’s research, LGBTQ youth with at least one LGBTQ affirmation space were 35% less likely to have suicidal thoughts.

RELATED: Texas agency removes website with LGBTQ youth suicide hotline after rival Abbott complains

Kayla said that in 2019, the principal of Seven Lakes High School required that students who want to join the Pride club and appear in the club’s yearbook photos must have a signed parent’s permit. The explosion then resulted in the children fighting with their parents, the club disbanding and the yearbook counselor resigning, according to the report. Follow US Press Freedom.

“If their goal is to make sure that schools are a learning environment for students, it’s much easier for students to reach when they know they’re being supported, that they’re not being targeted – not just by the students around them, Kayla said.

A month before launching an investigation into her book, Krause, a Republican, announced plans to run for state attorney general, but later dropped out to run for district attorney. Tarrant instead. Krause did not provide any details on how he compiled his book list. But he is a paid public speaker for the Christian organization WallBuilders, whose stated goal is “to educate the nation about our nation’s God foundation and inform federal, state, and local officials as they develop public policies that reflect biblical values ​​and encourage Christians to enter the civic sphere.” WallBuilders founder David Barton previously speak, “The bible says laws were made to regulate sexual immorality, whether it’s homosexuality or whatever.”

Is different right-wing political action committees, such as Act in Action, Cherry Tree Republicans, Recover America and the Harris County Conservative Coalition, have sponsored recent victories by conservative candidates on local school boards, including in the Klein, Cypress-Fairbanks and Houston school districts, all in Harris County.

The Conservative Republican Party of Harris County sent a letter to voters in Cypress-Fairbanks and Houston counties saying their endorsed candidates “promote biblical marriage” and “principle” God made them male and female “” while their opponents “accept, affirm, and celebrate a sexual debauchery and promote pedophilia.”

Since students at Seven Lakes High School submitted their petitions, the Katy School District has yet to block the district’s internet access to LGBTQ resources such as Project Trevor. However, it did establish a online book reviews for parents.

“The administration listened to those parents,” said Samuels, meaning parents who complained about library materials, “but then declined to comment on our matter. Knowledge is power, and ignorance is also power. Access is very important to information and does not block websites or get books from libraries or censor information. It is inevitable that some people will open up. and become part of the LGBTQ community or believe in some political ideology. Turn that off – that’s how these elected officials are trying to protect their power. But they don’t have a majority. number. “

He, Grace and Kayla will graduate from high school this year. Grace said she wishes for a more inclusive university environment and freedom to rise up: “I hope to live and love openly.”

To other LGBTQ teens in Texas who have had similar experiences to her and feel they can’t show up, Grace says: “Know that you are loved, and there will be people in this world. I will love you and accept you for who you are. I promise one day you will live as you are.”

Read more about the GOP’s opposition to LGBTQ rights: At a Texas school, LGBTQ teens call the onslaught of hate laws a “life and death matter.”

Huynh Nguyen

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