LGBTQ Youth and Mental Health
Posted on December 19, 2013
Sara Train (bio) presents some notable findings about the mental health risks faced by LGBT youth.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual youths are at a higher risk for harassment and bullying. Recent studies that were done on a national level by the organization named GLSEN [Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network], stated that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender young people in high school reported up to 83 percent incidences — 83 percent of them had experienced incidences of harassment and violence in schools.
And we know that that number is greatly, greatly underreported. Most youth feel that if they were to bring it up, an adult wouldn't even care about that because there is an idea that that behavior is normalized, that you're bringing it on yourself.
And so it's really important to understand the statistics around the reality of what's going on in schools, especially for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth, because when they reach out for help, that's where we want to be able to support them.
One of the most impactful statistics based on the YRBS [Youth Risk Behavior Survey] survey is that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender youth report having four times a higher risk for a suicide attempt than their heterosexual peers. And that number is just incredible. It really speaks to the environment. It has nothing to do with their identity as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, but it's the environments that they are in that are really leading to those negative mental health outcomes — feeling isolated, feeling that they don't have people who are supporting them. And that's where schools can be a real safe place for young people.
Another really important statistic to understand is that young lesbians are at twice a higher risk for a teen pregnancy, and four times at a higher risk for a second pregnancy. And if you think of the impact of that over the course of their life and the different systems! Even in our resources for young teen parents we often exclude same sex relationships or same sex interactions because it's not what we would typically think of. But often that has been a part of that young person's story. And young lesbians are actually at a higher risk for a second pregnancy than their heterosexual peers.