The Lancaster County Democratic Committee (LCDC) and the LCDC LGBTQ+ Caucus are releasing this statement in support of LGBTQ+ Youth following two related suicides in the Lancaster area.
It is with great sadness that we recently learned of the passing of two of our LGBTQ+ siblings. Each time this happens, everyone in our community feels the loss, and we are propelled anew to find ways to protect our youth. We, the members of the LGBTQ+ Caucus and our entire Lancaster County Democratic Committee, send our deepest condolences, love, and support to the families, friends, and community siblings grieving these tragic losses.
Here in Lancaster County, just like every other county in the country, there has been a marked increase in death by suicide within the LGBTQ+ community, especially by teen and young adults. LGBTQ+ youth are nearly four times more likely and trans youth nearly six times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts. Since Republicans took over the House in Congress, and in states run by Republican majorities, these numbers are growing at an alarming rate.
One major cause for alarm in our LGBTQ+ community is the huge increase (500+) in anti-LGBTQ+ bills across the United States. While not all will become law, they all cause harm, and they raise the levels of anxiety that lead to death by suicide and attempted suicide among LGBTQ+ youth. Another factor is the rising number of homeless LGBTQ+ youth; many of whom are thrown out of their homes by conservative families. On the other hand, research has shown that fully affirming schools, communities, and faith communities reduce this risk significantly.
While the positive progress for LGBTQ+ people since the Stonewall Riots in NYC in 1969 has been tremendous, there are continuing attempts by conservatives at all levels of government to roll it back. We urge community members to search for ‘Bradbury Sullivan 2022 Central PA LGBT Health Needs Assessment’ to learn more, and then get involved by calling your representatives and letting them know you don’t approve of these bills. And, of course, VOTE.
Our goal as a caucus is to help create a county where all people are accepted and guaranteed freedom, equity, and safety. These two tragic deaths show there is much work that still needs to be done. We must find ways to protect all LGBTQ+ people of the county, especially our LGBTQ+ youth. Please join us to help create a county where everyone feels like they belong. Please also join us in remembering and honoring the beautiful lives that were lost.
If you are or know a member of the LGBTQ+ community who is suffering from mental health issues, or contemplating suicide, remember you or they can call 988 (National Suicide Hotline), or text the word START to the Trevor Project at 678-678 or call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386. Locally, please see the Lancaster LGBTQ+ Coalition’s resource page at https://blog.lgbtlancaster.org/resources/ or Embrace Lancaster at https://www.facebook.com/groups/embraceLanc/