This is life or death

Fresno resident Ashens Limon discovered his queer identity at the age of 10 but kept it hidden due to his religious Latino upbringing. He turned to online LGBTQ communities for support but faced loneliness and struggled with his mental health. At 10, he attempted suicide, leading to his coming out to his mother and seeking mental health assistance. Limon, now an 18-year-old transgender male, finds support through therapy, the Fresno LGBTQ Youth Alliance, and Fresno City College’s gender-affirming environment.

Latinx LGBTQ youth face a higher risk of suicide attempts compared to their straight/cisgender peers, with California schools implementing policies about parental notification regarding name, gender, and pronoun changes. Supporters argue it’s a parental right, while opponents, including California Attorney General Rob Bonta, believe it endangers students’ rights, safety, and well-being.

Transgender youth often experience abuse after coming out to their parents, leading to increased suicide rates. School becomes a safe space for LGBTQ students to express themselves, but notification policies threaten this safety.

A survey found poor mental health among LGBTQ youth, with anti-LGBTQ policies exacerbating the problem. Instead, schools should provide counseling and mental health resources. LGBTQ+ Resource Centers offer mental health care but still require more gender-affirming options in the Central Valley.

Religious beliefs can also pose challenges for LGBTQ youth, as some parents fear for their children’s souls. However, there are resources available to connect parents with LGBTQ-affirming faith leaders.

Despite concerns about parental notification policies, Limon and others are hopeful about younger generations becoming more open and accepting of the LGBTQ community, envisioning a more inclusive future.

Read more at The Fresno Bee.

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