Our response to new bills, SF538 & SF482 affecting LGBTQ+ youth.
Last week, Governor Kim Reynolds signed two bills, SF538 and SF482, into law. These bills banned age-appropriate, medically necessary gender affirming care for youth. They also prohibit transgender youth from using school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. We are saddened by the passage of these bills which will only cause further harm to the LGBTQ+ youth and families of Iowa.
Youth thrive when they feel safe and wanted. These two laws will foster unwelcoming environments for some of Iowa’s most vulnerable youth, making their lives even more challenging. This will likely result in greater rates of depression, self-harm, and suicide among LGBTQ+ youth in Iowa.
Why does Camp Fire care about these laws, pronouns, gender identity, and LGBTQ+ youth?
Because caring about Iowa youth and supporting youth with diverse gender identities literally saves lives.
- More than half of transgender and nonbinary youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year.
- Nearly 90% of transgender and non-binary youth report that current legislation has had a negative impact on their mental health.
- Transgender and gender-expansive youth are 2 times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than their LGBTQ+ peers who have gender identities that match the sex they were assigned at birth (“cisgender”).
But there is hope: Having supportive adults in their lives can make all the difference to gender-diverse young people. In fact, when transgender and nonbinary youth lived in homes where their pronouns were respected, their suicide rates were 50 percent lower than those who did not – it’s that simple.
Not surprisingly, having access to spaces that supported their gender identity also lowered suicide rates for LGBTQ+ young people.
At Camp Fire, we prioritize the well-being of our youth over all else. We welcome and affirm all persons, including LGBTQ+ youth and families.
As an organization, we follow the advice of experts, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, which has continually reaffirmed the importance of access to gender-affirming care for LGBTQ+ youth. We prioritize evidence-based practices and policies which are proven to help youth develop healthy habits, meaningful relationships and, critically, to survive and thrive in adulthood.
In all our programs, we will continue to support and affirm all youth and families by honoring their identities with the correct pronouns, names and access to gender-affirming spaces which align with their identity (cabins, bathrooms, etc.). We will continue to speak out against any legislation that will put the lives of Iowa youth at risk. Camp Fire stands with our LGBTQ+ youth and families in opposition to discriminatory practices and policies within our state. At Camp Fire, ALL youth are welcome and appreciated for who they truly are.