Lesbian, gay, and bisexual young people are far more likely to experience violence and bullying, and attempt suicide, than their heterosexual peers.
That’s according to the alarming results of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nationwide survey of American high school students.
This year marked the first time the biannual Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (YRBS) asked young people about their sexual orientation. The results from this year’s survey are sobering:
- Thirty-four percent of LGB teens reported having been bullied in school, and 18 percent said they had been raped;
- Twenty-three percent reported experiencing sexual violence, and 18 percent were subjected to physical violence from someone they were dating;
- And more than 30 percent reported having attempted suicide in the past year alone.
“Anti-LGBTQ bullying and harassment have serious and heartbreaking consequences for young people and these numbers make that more clear than ever,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, Human Rights Campaign (HRC)Foundation’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Trainings.
“This is a call to action to support and protect our young people. From the messages youth receive at their kitchen table, in their classroom, and on prime-time TV, we all must do more to put an end to anti-LGBTQ stigma. Policymakers, for one, can start with the passage and implementation of local, state, and federal anti-bullying policies and nondiscrimination protections.”
The YRBS surveyed 15,713 teens in 2015 in high schools across the US. While this report gives insight into the plight of LGB youth, it is not a complete picture: a number of states eliminated sexual orientation questions from their surveys.
The HRC noted that the YRBS still does not identify teens who are transgender or gender-expansive—even though previous research suggests that transgender teens are more likely to experience violence and other serious problems. The CDC is expected to add these questions to the YRBS in the future.
Researchers believe that anti-LGBTQ stigma is a major cause of problems including depression, violence and substance abuse among LGBTQ youth. Studies show that support from peers, family and other important adults helps them to manage the consequences of stigma.