School Bullying, Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Youth Linked With Risk for Suicide, HIV and STDs in Young Adulthood
MAY 16, 2011 – Critical new research has found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who experience high levels of school victimization in middle and high school report impaired health and mental health in young adulthood, including depression, suicide attempts that require medical care, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and risk for HIV. This is the first known study to examine the relationship between school victimization during adolescence – specifically related to sexual orientation and gender identity – with multiple dimensions of young adult health and adjustment. The study demonstrates the importance of addressing and preventing anti-LGBT victimization at the structural or school level to reduce health disparities among LGBT young people. The study is published in the Journal of School Health, the journal of the American School Health Association.
Analyzing data from the Family Acceptance Project's young adult survey, the authors examined experiences related to school victimization during adolescence based on known or perceived LGBT identity among 245 LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25. They found that LGBT young adults who were victimized in school because of their LGBT identity reported much higher health and adjustment problems, while students with low levels of school victimization had higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults.
Key Research Findings:
- LGBT young adults who reported high levels of LGBT school victimization during adolescence were 5.6 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt that required medical care, 2.6 times more likely to report clinical levels of depression, 2.5 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease, and nearly 4 times more likely to report risk for HIV infection, compared with peers who reported low levels of school victimization.
- Gay and bisexual males and transgender young adults reported higher levels of LGBT school victimization than lesbian and bisexual young women.
- LGBT young adults who reported lower levels of school victimization reported higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and social integration compared with peers with higher levels of school victimization during adolescence.
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December 13, 2010 – NASW Member Dr. Caitlin Ryan, Director of the San Francisco based Family Acceptance Project, has released a study that found that accepting parental and caregiver behaviors — such as welcoming their children's openly LGBT friends or supporting their gender expression — protect their LGBT children against depression, substance abuse, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in early adulthood. In addition, LGBT youth with highly accepting families have significantly higher levels of self-esteem, social support and better overall health in young adulthood.
The study was published in the November 2010 issue of the international Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing. This follows Dr. Ryan's study published in Developmental Psychology in the same month which shows that LGBT young adults who do not conform to socially proscribed gender behavior as adolescents report higher levels of anti-LGBT victimization, and higher levels of depression and impaired life satisfaction in adulthood. Dr. Ryan's research has generated a substantial level of consumer media coverage.
- To read the press release from Renna Communications, click here.
- To read the study, click here.
- To learn more about the Family Acceptance Project, click here.
Dr. Ryan is a member of the Institute of Medicine committee that created a landmark publication released on March 31, 2011, on LGBT health. Click here to learn more about the study
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