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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 25, 2018 - Volume 46 Issue 21
HRC projects message to Betsy DeVos on US Department of Education building
Section One
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HRC projects message to Betsy DeVos on US Department of Education building

WASHINGTON, D.C. - [On May 22], the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and artist Robin Bell projected a message to [US Secretary of Education] Betsy DeVos [on to the US Department of Education building in Washington, DC] to raise awareness about how the Trump-Pence administration's policies are harming already vulnerable LGBTQ youth.

The HRC recently released the results of a groundbreaking survey of 12,000 LGBTQ teens performed by the HRC and researchers at the University of Connecticut. The survey found that LGBTQ teenagers are not only experiencing heartbreaking levels of stress, anxiety, and rejection but also overwhelmingly feel unsafe in their own schools.

The projection, which included a survey finding that 95% of LGBTQ teens report trouble getting to sleep at night, asked DeVos, 'How do you sleep at night?'

'Betsy DeVos has spent the last year and half relentlessly attacking the rights of transgender students, youth of color, survivors of sexual assault, and students with disabilities,' said Ellen Kahn, the HRC's Director of Children, Youth and Families Programs. 'While these survey results underscore the challenges facing LGBTQ youth, [they also reflect] their perseverance and strength in the face of bullies - whether in their classrooms or the federal government. Given the disastrous and dangerous actions of Donald Trump and Mike Pence, the question must be asked of everyone in this administration, 'how do you sleep at night?'

The HRC's projection took place one day after DeVos told a US House committee that she would not take action on civil rights violations against transgender students '[u]ntil the Supreme Court opines or until [the US Congress] takes action.'

The results of the largest-of-its-kind survey highlight the challenges facing LGBTQ youth, particularly transgender young people and people of color, who have experienced ongoing efforts by the Trump-Pence administration to undermine their rights - from rescinding life-saving guidance promoting equitable treatment of transgender students and refusing to investigate complaints filed by transgender students who face discrimination in school facilities, to racist immigration policies and giving shameful passes to hate groups and white supremacists.

The HRC and researchers at the University of Connecticut found that:

o Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week.

o Ninety-five percent of LGBTQ youth report trouble sleeping at night.

o LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress - only 11% of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the US, and over 50% of trans and gender-expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity.

o More than 70% reported feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week.

o Only 26% say they always feel safe in their school classrooms - and just 5% say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people.

o Sixty-seven percent report that they've heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people.

This survey comes five years after the HRC's groundbreaking 2012 study of LGBTQ youth - one of the first initiatives launched by the organization under HRC President Chad Griffin's leadership. They comprise the most reliable data collected about the experiences of LGBTQ young people in America.

The US lacks reliable data about LGBTQ people, especially about the experiences of LGBTQ youth. In light of this, and in the face of consistent attacks on LGBTQ youth, the HRC is committed to ensuring that this data is in the hands of teachers, counselors, coaches, doctors, and other youth-serving professionals across the country. These findings will inform a variety of HRC Foundation programs for youth and youth-serving professionals, including the Welcoming Schools program, the All Children-All Families program, and the Time to THRIVE conference.

The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. The HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work, and in every community.

Courtesy of the HRC

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