SALEM — A new piece of legislation signed today is taking steps to ensure that Oregon’s most vulnerable students have much-needed support at school to address mental health issues.
In an emotional bill signing, Governor Kate Brown signed Adi’s Act (Senate Bill 52) into law. The bill requires school districts across Oregon to have a policy in place that addresses youth suicide, and works to destigmatize mental health struggles.
The legislation is named after Adi Staub, a young girl who died by suicide last year after struggling in high school with coming out as transgender.
Adi’s parents say the world observed her as a boy, but she often chose girls as her primary playmates. With pressure to conform to a more traditional male role, she often pushed herself to seek out traditional male sports, friendships, and activities.
In a high school health class, Adi watched a video that profiled a transgender teen — and for the first time since her birth, realized the conflict she had been feeling.
“Adi inspired us in showing the courage to quickly ‘come out’ to classmates, standing in class and asking that others accept her as ‘Aditi or Adi,’ a transgender woman,” says her family. Her self-chosen female name means ‘free and limitless’ in Sanskrit.
In the two years following her transition, Adi blossomed — and struggled. She went from being a straight-A student to failing in school. She suffered from depression and acute body dysphoria. She gained friends, but also lost friends. And while she always had unwavering family support, she made the decision to leave this life.
Adi’s tragedy is, unfortunately, not an isolated story. In 2017, the Oregon Health Authority’s Healthy Teens Survey reported that nearly half of lesbian, gay, or bisexual 8th graders have attempted suicide. It’s the same startling statistic for almost one third of Oregon’s transgender 8th graders.
Senate Bill 52 provides school districts with the tools and resources to promote mental health and suicide prevention and intervention policies. It has a particular focus on high-risk groups, such as LGBTQ youth, students with disabilities, and foster youth.
Along with the Student Success Act investments, Adi’s Act will help Oregon schools have more resources and tools to help students feel safe and supported at school.