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Thu May 10, 2012, 01:56 PM

LGBT Bullying in School's Long-Term Health Effects ("Tied to Human Right of Having an Education") [View all]


LGBT Bullying In School Linked To Long-Term Health Effects In New Report

Joy Resmovits

First Posted: 05/16/11 01:30 AM ET Updated: 07/15/11 06:12 AM ET

A new report by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University traced the effects of LGBT-victimizing bullying in school -- including unintentional epithets like “that’s so gay,” more direct verbal harassment, and physical violence -- beyond their initial sting in school hallways. Using data from the project's survey of 245 LGBT young adults, the paper links such bullying to long-term health and developmental problems.

It found that LGBT-targeted bullying related to gender expression or sexual orientation during school years led to increased young adult depression, suicidal thoughts, social adjustment issues and risky sexual behavior. LGBT young adults that reported high levels of anti-LGBT victimization as teens were 5.6 times more likely to report suicide attempts than those victimized less frequently. They were more than twice as likely to report being clinically depressed, and they were more than twice as likely to report having been diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease by young adulthood.

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The report, titled “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Adolescent School Victimization: Implications for Young Adult Health and Adjustment” and published in the Journal of School Health, comes as both popular culture and policy hone in on the topic. The plot of last week's episode of the ever-popular Fox hit show Glee, for example, revolved around quiet, biting homophobic bullying: an openly gay male was (spoiler alert!) crowned Prom Queen.

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"While the focus for so long has been on youth bullying, there’s a price to be paid in later life," said Caitlin Ryan, Director of the Family Acceptance Project and co-author of the report. "The negative or adverse effects that happen in earlier stages affect the later stages of their lives."

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The effects of LGBT-targeted bullying, she said, are more serious and lasting than people think. “It’s not about special rights,” she said. “It’s tied to the human right of having an education and going into an educational environment that supports them.”


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