Montana’s suicide crisis continues to make national news. Easy access to firearms and a paucity of rural healthcare availability no doubt contribute to Montana consistently landing among the top states for suicides per capita. Now, Montana Republicans are targeting our most vulnerable- Queer kids.
Suicide is already the second leading cause of death for kids in the United States, and LGBTQ+ kids are four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers.
Interestingly, Montana’s own DPPHS report addresses the increased risk of suicide among LGBTQ+ kids. The report also notes, “Each episode of LGBTQ victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.” Read the DPPHS report here: https://dphhs.mt.gov/assets/suicideprevention/SuicideinMontana.pdf
Preventing youth suicide would seem like a given. But let’s not pretend the MT GOP supermajority has any shred of decency. Rather than provide resources and funding to bring these tragic numbers down, Republicans instead are attempting to withhold healthcare for Queer Montanans. (Yes, we believe even those Montanans under 18 still count as whole, self-determining humans worthy of representation in our government.)
Enter the “Slate of Hate” as it has been branded by multiple non-profit agencies and human rights activists. The Montana Human Rights Network has identified a whopping 54 bills in the 2023 session with clear anti-lgbtq goals. Unsurprisingly, a number of those bills are sponsored by Great Falls’ own embarrassments, including “I Don’t Have to Pay Fair Property Taxes’ Jeremy Trebas and the world’s worst landlord, Lola Sheldon Galloway. More about these bills will be shared below.
Most urgent is SB 99, proposed by another Flathead-area bigot, Senator John Fuller. Fuller’s bill seeks to deny gender affirming care to minors. SB 99 would totally eliminate the rights of children and their parents to make appropriate medical decisions in consultation with qualified medical professionals. If this bullshit bill sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve literally heard it all before. Fuller introduced an incredibly similar bill during the 2021 session, which ultimately died on the Senate floor. But its a new session, and Senator Fuller still has a burning desire to watch Queer kids die. Denying them healthcare is one of the best ways to do that.
Montana’s own Health and Human Services agency recognizes the acute risk of being an lgbtq+ teen. Further, data also shows that gender affirming care SAVES lives. Yes, the very care Fuller wants to eliminate is what helps many kids survive into adulthood. Here’s a quick recap of a study showing the importance of gender-affirming care: https://www.columbiapsychiatry.org/news/gender-affirming-care-saves-lives
Perhaps Fuller and his ilk aren’t aware of this data. More likely, they hate Queer people enough that they would simply prefer us dead. If verbal harassment doubles the rate of lgbtq+ youth self-harm, what effect are these GOP bills having on our kids? If this bill passes, our answer will be found in the local Obituaries.
Take Action To Stop SB 99
The good news is that the 2023 session has shown us the power of pushing back. We saw Keith Reiger immediately walk back his attempt to dismantle reservations after the idea was met with tremendous national backlash. Like most bullies, Republicans back down quickly when someone stands up and says “No more.”
Enter you, dear reader. You have an opportunity to stop Fuller’s bill, and the entire Slate of Hate, all from the comfort of your home. The bill is being heard this Friday, January 27, 2023. Follow this link to submit written testimony to OPPOSE SB 99 in the SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE. https://leg.mt.gov/public-testimony/
Read more about the Slate of Hate and which Great Falls Reps are pushing an anti-lgbtq agenda here: