LGBT teens are more than twice as likely as non-LGBT teens to say they’ve been verbally or physically attacked at school, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign, one of the nation’s largest civil rights organization dedicated to LGBT rights.
Titled “Growing Up LGBT in America,” the report is the first in a series to be released by the HRC this year examining the discrimination LGBT-identified teens face at home, at school and in their daily lives. Based on a survey of more than 10,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths ages 13-17, the report concludes that those teens are at an enormous disadvantage compared to their peers because they’re forced to confront an added layer of social tension on top of the pressures already faced by people their age.
For example, 26 percent of LGBT teens surveyed said the most important problem facing their lives was “non-accepting families,” while 21 percent said it was bullying, and 18 percent said it was a fear of being out or open. By contrast, 25 percent of non-LGBT teens cited grades or school as the most important problem facing their lives, followed by “college/career” (14 percent), and financial pressures related to college or a career (11 percent.)
“Official government discrimination or indifference along with social ostracism leaves many teens disaffected and disconnected in their own homes and neighborhoods,” the report states. “With an increase in public awareness about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and the strikingly high number of LGBT youth who are homeless, in foster care, or living in high-risk situations, it is critical that we get a better understanding of the experiences, needs, and concerns of LGBT youth.”
Some of the most startling findings include:
LGBT youth are half as likely as their non-LGBT peers to say they are happy.
Three-quarters of LGBT youths say they are more honest about themselves online than in real life, compared to 43 percent for non-LGBT teens.
Forty-two (42) percent of LGBT teens say the community in which they live is not accepting of their lifestyle.
While the situation for LGBT teens is described as troubling for now, the report found indicators that even those facing the worst discrimination believe things will change, and that they’ve discovered ways to cope in the meantime. Echoing the refrain from the “It Gets Better” web project, 77 percent of LGBT teens surveyed said they know that, “things will get better.”
“These youth are quite resilient. They find safe havens among their peers, online and in their schools,” the report found. “They remain optimistic and believe things will get better.”
Over the next severl months, the organization plans to release more detailed analyses of individual demographics within the broader survey and the specific problems those teens face.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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