A suicide prevention bill that includes LGBT-specific training for helpline workers has become the first ever LGBT-inclusive legislation to pass through the US House of Representatives without a single vote against it.
The house passed the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act, which will allow Americans to dial 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, by unanimous consent on Monday (September 21), sending the bill to the president’s desk.
LGBT+ suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project notes that the bill “is the first that is specifically LGBTQ-inclusive to pass Congress unanimously in history”, with not a single lawmaker casting a vote against it.
In addition to the creation of the 988 number, The Trevor Project notes that the bill “contains several key LGBTQ-inclusive provisions”, including a requirement for Lifeline counsellors to undergo LGBT+ cultural competency training.
The 988 lifeline, which has already been approved by the FCC, would also include an integrated voice response option to help LGBT+ youth and other high-risk populations to access specialised services.
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The bill notes that “youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer are more than four times more likely to contemplate suicide than their peers, with one in five LGBTQ youth and more than one in three transgender youth reporting attempting suicide”.
The National Suicide Hotline Designation Act will now head to the desk of the president, having been passed through the Senate in May.
The passage of the legislation comes despite major hurdles for other laws relating to LGBT+ people, not least the Equality Act, a non-discrimination bill which continues to be blocked by the Republican leadership in the Senate. Usually the mere mention of LGBT+ issues is enough to give rise to some votes against proposals.