US surgeon general speaks about mental health challenges for LGBTQ+ youth during South Florida visit

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is in South Florida Friday,…

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is in South Florida Friday, where he will have a listening session with LGBTQ+ youth, meet with healthcare workers at Jackson Memorial Hospital and deliver a commencement address at Miami Dade College.

Murthy’s listening session with LGBTQ+ youth follows his advisory issued in December, which highlighted the youth mental health crisis across the country and identified LGBTQ+ youth as being of higher risk of having mental health challenges during the pandemic.

“Many of them are not feeling like they are of value, that they are respected, that they are cared for,” Murthy said. “They are, in fact, feeling threatened by recent rules and legislation that have been passed in various parts of the country.

“I think we have to consider the impact on the LGBTQ community when we put forth new rules, whether they govern conversations at school or whether they govern the kind of medical care they should be offered.”

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Some LGTBQ youth in Florida have said they feel they are in the crosshairs of partisan politics following passage of recent legislation.

On March 10, MAST Academy Sophomore Kamilah Gurdian, who organized a school demonstration in protest of the state’s Parental Rights in Education bill, dubbed by critics as the “Don’t say Gay” bill, said: “It is just treating us LGTBQ youth, and adults as well, as a political pawn because we all know that they don’t care and they’re just trying to gain points for certain supporters.”

RELATED LINK: South Florida students hold walkouts against ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill

Local 10 News reporter Christina Vazquez asked the surgeon general his thoughts on a recent Florida memo on gender-affirming care guidelines that differ from the stance of federal health officials and medical associations.

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“It is important that health policy decisions are made and driven by medical professionals, by public health professionals, by evidence and data,” he said.

He said part of the reason why the Department of Health and Human Services put out gender-affirming care guidance “is because that is what the medical community, after careful consideration, has supported as well,” adding that as “we pass new laws or put forth new guidance or regulations, it’s very important that we have the right people at the table, that we let science and medicine guide us, that we consider the impact of these measures on LGBTQ youth who, by the way, have a significant higher rate of suicide and mental health concerns.”

Murthy, who graduated from Miami Palmetto Senior High School, said at the end of the day “America should be a place that is welcoming for everyone.”

“Where everyone can find a home,” he said. “It’s what brought my family and generations of immigrants to this country. No one should be left out. Right now, there’s an important part of our community that is feeling left out. We can’t afford to let that happen.”

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