Landmark Study Highlights Challenges of LGBT Youth in U.S.

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June 7, 2012; Source: The Advocate

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocacy group, recently released the findings of its of groundbreaking survey of 10,000 LGBT youth.

While the report, “Growing Up LGBT in America,” contained no real surprises, some of the statistics it presented are nonetheless alarming. Only 37 percent of LGBT-identified youth say that they are happy, compared to 67 percent of straight kids. Four in ten say the community they live in is not accepting of LGBT people. Nine in ten say they hear negative messages about being LGBT, mostly from school, the Internet, and their peers. The LGBT respondents are twice as likely as their peers to say that they have been physically assaulted, kicked, or shoved at school.

However, LGBT youth are hopeful, as a vast majority believes that things will get better and that they will one day be happy. Nine in ten say they are out to their close friends and six in ten say they are out to their classmates. Three-quarters say most of their peers do not have a problem with their gender orientation and identity.

“No one would say that growing up LGBT is easy, but this survey is a stark wake-up call to the daily toll that discrimination takes on vulnerable young people,” HRC’s president Chad Griffin said in a statement. “We have a responsibility to change that, because we know all too well that there are real life consequences to inaction.”

Indeed, a study of lesbian, gay and bisexual teens published in Pediatrics last year revealed that they are five times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. Living in a supportive community, however, can make a difference. Families and communities of youth who happen to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender need to accept the fact that their children do not choose to be different. We are born that way and, truly, it will all be okay. – Erwin de Leon