DES MOINES, Iowa — LGBTQ people across the country have struggled with their mental health for years, and Iowa is no exception. However, advocates are concerned that here in The Hawkeye State, the problem may be getting worse.
According to The Trevor Project, 42% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered suicide in the past 12 months. Meanwhile, lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows.
Among transgender adults, that rate is even higher, at four times more likely.
"It's not because of somebody's identity that they are experiencing these things. It is because of the pervasive ongoing discrimination that they face on a near-daily basis. And even more so for our trans siblings," said Keenan Crow, Director of Policy and Advocacy with One Iowa.
The Iowa House on Monday passed House File 2416, which would bar transgender girls from playing sports on girls' teams. Advocates are worried that passage may be causing even more difficulties for an already-marginalized group.
"This is exactly why members of our community tend to have negative outcomes both in life and especially mental health," said Damian Thompson, Director of Public Policy & Communications for Iowa Safe Schools.
There are ways to improve those outcomes, the groups say. One of the simplest: LGBTQ youth who report having at least one accepting adult in their lives were 40% less likely to report a suicide attempt.
"It doesn't really matter who it is in that person's life," Crow said. "What matters is that they're affirmed and that they are taken seriously and treated with the same kind of respect and dignity that we would treat any other human beings."
You might be wondering: How many Iowans are dealing with these issues?
According to the Williams Institute, approximately 106,000 Iowans identify as LGBTQ, a little over 3% of the state's population.
If you are an LGBTQ person in need of health services, One Iowa has a guide to central Iowa resources available here.
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