September 23, 2015 at 2:55 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Grosso introduces youth suicide prevention bill
David Grosso, D.C. Council, gay news, Washington Blade

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large). (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

D.C. Council member David Grosso (I-At-Large) said he worked with experts on LGBT youth suicide to help him draft a bill he introduced on Tuesday that requires “all school based personnel” in the city’s public school system to receive suicide prevention training.

The Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015 calls on the D.C. Office of the State Superintendent of Education to adopt rules requiring that personnel in all public and charter schools receive at least two hours of suicide prevention, intervention and post-intervention training each year.

The legislation also requires all public and charter schools operating in the city to administer “school climate surveys” to all students and school personnel to determine whether an environment exists at a school that may contribute to emotional stress among students that could lead to suicide.

Grosso said in a statement that he recognized the need for the legislation following a June 23 hearing by the Council’s Committee on Education in which experts testified about the high rate of suicide attempts by D.C. middle school and high school students, especially LGBT students.

He pointed to discussion at the hearing of a 2012 survey conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found 33 percent of D.C. LGBT middle school students had attempted suicide in their lifetime. The survey also found that 28 percent of LGBT high school students in D.C. had attempted suicide within the previous year.

“Throughout the summer, my office worked with advocates from the D.C. Center [for the LGBT Community], the Trevor Project, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and others” in the drafting of his bill, Grosso said. The Trevor Project specializes in LGBT youth suicide prevention.

Grosso’s statement says nine of his fellow Council members signed on as co-introducers of the bill. They include Council Chair Phil Mendelson (D-At-Large) and Council members Anita Bonds (D-At-Large), Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Brandon Todd (D-Ward 4), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), and LaRuby May (D-Ward 8).

Grosso spokesperson Darby Hickey said Council members Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) and Vincent Orange (D-At-Large) signed on as co-sponsors for the bill.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

1 Comment
  • Council can’t tacitly encourage bullying and hate crime violence against LGBTQ youth by MPD and hate crime perpetrators — and still claim to be doing something meaningful about LGBTQ suicide prevention. That’s just not credible.

    At-risk LGBTQ students aren’t stupid. They can read through political hypocrisy on Council in a nanosecond.

    McDuffie, Grosso and others on Council turn a blind eye to coverups of anti-LGBT hate crimes as well as harassment of MPD’s LGBT officers by MPD’s biased bosses.

    This will have little impact if Grosso and his Council colleagues don’t halt the state-sponsored homophobia/ transphobia of MPD chiefs with new, unbiased leadership.

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