At the Cognitive Development Society, we stand in strong support of the LGBTQIA+ community. As scholars working to understand and improve the lives of children through the study of cognitive development, we are profoundly disappointed to see the recent political efforts targeting LGBTQIA+ children and in particular, transgender children, and to observe elected leaders encouraging or even mandating that doctors, parents, and teachers violate best practices in medicine and child development. The proposed and enacted bans on medical care and exclusion from important social-developmental activities (such as sports), as well as the investigation of parents supporting their youth, restricted education about LGBTQIA+ topics, and the urging that teachers out their pupils to their families, all run strongly counter to evidence-based medicine, psychology, and human development. The ramifications of these policies will likely lead to catastrophic outcomes for these children and their families.
The medical community – including the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Endocrine Society, the American Psychological Association, The Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry – has been clear and unequivocal in indicating the importance of medical treatments that support the health, well-being, and identities of transgender youth. Research in psychology, public health, and sociology is clear about the importance of supporting youth’s LGBTQIA+ identities and fostering trust between youth and their parents, teachers, and medical providers.
LGBTQIA+ youth are more likely than other youth to experience bullying, exclusion, harassment, rejection, and discrimination. These experiences have been linked to increases in anxiety, depression, substance use, suicidality, and a range of other negative outcomes. Disparities in the mental and physical health of LGBTQIA+ youth continues to lag significantly from non-LGBTQIA+ youth. The laws and mandates proposed would seek to increase negative treatment by the adults in the best position to help trans and queer youth, further exacerbating these disparities.
We encourage not only the rejection of these bills and mandates, but that politicians and other adults in the community seek out further education about these issues, affirming the importance of LGBTQIA+ people in our communities and instead mandating policies that advance their health and well-being. As a society, we are eager to ensure that all youth, regardless of identity, have the opportunities to thrive in loving and supportive families, schools, and communities.
The Office of the Administration for Children and Families has released supporting guidance for supporting LGBTQ+ children. https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/policy-guidance/im-22-01
The Center of Excellence on on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity: https://lgbtqequity.org/
Johns MM, Lowry R, Haderxhanaj LT, et al. Trends in Violence Victimization and Suicide Risk by Sexual Identity Among High School Students — Youth Risk Behavior Survey, United States, 2015–2019. MMWR Suppl 2020;69(Suppl-1):19–27. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/su/su6901a3.htm?s_cid=su6901a3_w
AAP Statement: https://publications.aap.org/aapnews/news/12780
Endocrine Society Statement: https://www.endocrine.org/advocacy/position-statements/transgender-health