Lesbian, Gay & Bisexual Youth’s Schooling & Mental Health Impacted By High Levels Of Bullying, Sexual Assault & Violence

By Samantha Finch, Parent Herald August 15, 12:54 am

You'd think that the recent achievements of LGBT people and organizations would somehow lower the discrimination suffered by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. That however, isn't the case. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth in particular continue to suffer from high levels of bullying, sexual assault, and violence despite anti-bullying policies.

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are two times more likely to struggle in school more than their heterosexual peers. Sean Kosofsky, executive director of the anti-bullying organization Tyler Clementi Foundation, told Mashable that lesbian, gay, and bisexual high school students face "immense barriers" not only in their success in finishing school, but in finishing just their daily lives.

CDC's survey covered 15,000 pupils from grade nine to 12. Out of those who participated, two percent of students said they identify as gay or lesbian, six percent said they are bisexual, and three percent are uncertain of their sexual identity. Youth who are unsure of their identity are harassed more or sometimes experience torment similar to what their lesbian, gay, and bisexual peers go through.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth tend to get bullied via electronic means such as texting, websites, instant messaging, email, and chat rooms. Out of the 15,000 students surveyed, more than 100 engage in drug and alcohol abuse as a direct correlation of bullying and violence.

Bullying also increases the risk of mental health issues including depression, anxiety, and damaged self-esteem, according to the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In addition, bullied children and adolescents tend to have academic problems or commit violence later on in life.

In CDC's study, 13 percent of lesbian, gay, and bisexual students skipped school at least once in 30 days because they don't feel safe. Only five percent of straight students do the same.

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth often experience sadness, hopelessness, and suicidal tendencies due to the homophobic torments they experience. Eighteen percent of these students and 13 percent of the unsure ones said they were forced to have sex. Only five percent of straight students reported having this issue, which, according to Emily Greytak, the director of research for the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), signifies these young people's vulnerability.

Previous studies found that LGBT people tend to use drugs like meth and heroin to cope with the prejudice and harassment they encounter, The Verge reported. Other reports found that LGBTs have higher suicide risks as well.

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