WASHINGTON -- Saturday, June 8, 2019, the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, hosted its annual conference and benefit dinner. This year’s theme “Can We Talk?” promotes dialogue about the impact that  Mental Health issues have in Black communities. On Friday, June 7, actress and activist Taraji P. Henson gave a testimony before the Black Caucus’ Emergency Taskforce on Black Youth Mental Health and Suicide. She shared her personal experiences with depression and anxiety, and spoke about the importance of increasing access to Mental Health services in school. 

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WASHINGTON--Last week, we lost another member of the Black Trans Community. Layleen Polanco, a 27-year old Black trans woman, was found dead in her cell at Rikers Island, where she had been serving time for an alleged assault and possession of a controlled substance. Polanco was held in an unit specifically intended to reduce possible violence against trans and gender non-conforming people. She was found unresponsive in her cell and pronounced dead after an hour of revival attempts. The nature of Polanco’s death is still being investigated.

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According to the Human Rights Campaign nearly 80% of LGBTQ/SGL teens report feeling depressed. Data suggests that LGBTQ/SGL youth experience violence and bullying nearly twice as much as children who are or are presumed to be heterosexual. 74% of LGBTQ/SGL students report feeling unsafe, bullied, and harassed in schools throughout the country according to GLSEN. LGBTQ/SGL students are five times more likely to attempt suicide compared to their heterosexual peers.

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Huntsville, Alabama-- On April 18, 2019, 14-year-old Nigel Shelby died by suicide after constant homophobic bullying for being gay. This Monday, June 10, Nigel Shelby’s mother Camika Shelby will announce that she is retaining nationally renowned civil rights attorneys Benjamin Crump, Esquire and Jasmine Rand, Esquire, to investigate the circumstances involving her son’s death, the bullying he experienced at Huntsville High School, and his school administrators’ role in his decision to take his life. Crump and Rand are best known for their work as nationally renowned civil rights attorneys who represented the family of Trayvon Martin. 

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Chynal Lindsey is now the eighth Black transgender woman killed this year and reported by the news. This tragic event is especially difficult since last month’s murder of our sister Muhlaysia Booker. While many are celebrating Pride Month, Black women and girls are being murdered  across the country and too few people are acknowledging this reality and trying to stop these deaths.

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