The death of a child causes incalculable pain and loss to the parents. Moreover, when the tragedy is due to suicide, that pain is compounded by knowing it might have been preventable. Dozens of gay and lesbian teens every year commit suicide after prolonged anti-gay bullying.
Suicide among gay youths is much higher than among their straight peers. However, the risk of suicide can be significantly reduced by counseling and an empathic ear.
As a psychiatrist, I understand the value of counseling-- being heard and understood can make the critical difference between life and death. That’s why I was astonished to learn about Rep. James Lyons’ attempt to make it harder for gay youth to seek and receive this much-needed help. He co-sponsored HB1060, a bill that would have severely limited gay teenagers’ access to counseling and support.
Gay or straight, all our children deserve an adolescence free of isolation and despair. Rep. Lyons risked the health and safety of these children to advance his ideological agenda. Regardless of one’s moral beliefs, choosing ideology over kids’ well-being is wrong-- that’s why I believe it’s crucial to oppose Rep. Lyons’ re-election Nov. 6.
Margo P. Goldman, MD