9 out of 10 LGBT students have experienced harassment at school.
LGBT teens are bullied 2 to 3 times more than straight teens.
More than 1/3 of LGBT kids have attempted suicide.
LGBT kids are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide then our straight peers.
During the month of June a spotlight highlights these statistics and many others concerning the LGBT community. LGBT Pride Month (different from LGBT History Month, which is observed in October) is filled with rallies, parades and outreach events across the country. According to GLAAD, it is held in June “to commemorate the anniversary of the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City on June 28, 1969, which most historians consider to be the birth of the modern LGBT movement.”
LGBT youth are exposed to the same type of violence as heterosexual individuals, but they may also experience traumas related to their sexual orientation or gender identity like bullying as a child or teen related to their presumed sexual orientation or gender expression. In addition, some LGBT youth are exposed to physical or sexual assault (gay bashing) or domestic violence, which carries with it additional stigma and barriers to treatment. We know what the impact of exposure to violence is on children and youth, and therefore, they are very vulnerable to negative impacts.
During the last year or so, the issue of suicide and LGBT youth received a lot of media attention when at least four LGBT teens committed suicide after they were constantly bullied. Direct or indirect exposure to this violence can have many consequences for youth’s mental health, school performance and everyday life.
According to the Trevor Project, lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are up to four times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and more than 1/3 of LGB youth report having made a suicide attempt.
As we discussed in one of our Mental Health Month blogs, building a child/teen’s resilience is the best way to potentially protect them from the consequences of exposure to violence.
Centers for Disease Control Public Health Model provides a great way to start and complete the process of enhancing children’s well-being. Understanding Children’s Exposure to Violence details ways to build resilience, including participation in high-quality early care and education programs to enhance physical, cognitive, and social development and promote readiness and capacity to succeed in school.
We hope you’ll take some time this month to explore the plethora of resources available regarding the LGBT youth community and how exposure to violence impacts them, as well as proven strategies to build resilience and create understanding school environments.
Below is a great video from the Youth Pride Choir and some resources to get you started.
GLSEN Playgrounds and Prejudice Study – http://www.glsen.org/playgroundsandprejudice.html?
GLSEN Ready, Set, Respect! Toolkit – http://www.glsen.org/readysetrespect.html?
The Trevor Project – http://www.thetrevorproject.org/
It Gets Better Project – http://www.itgetsbetter.org/
The Social Environment and Suicide Attempts in Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youth - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3081186/?tool=pubmed
New York Times: Suicide Draws Attention to Gay Bullying – http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/21/suicide-of-gay-teenager-who-urged-hope/
NYU to Study Increased Suicide Risk Among LGBT Youth – http://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20110913/greenwich-village-soho/nyu-study-increased-suicide-risk-among-lgbt-youth