The Human Rights Campaign surveyed over 10,000 LGBT youth – the largest known sample of its kind – ages 13-17, from every region of the country and various social, cultural, ethnic and racial backgrounds for the groundbreaking report, “Growing Up LGBT in America.”
“Despite many civil rights advances, today’s LGBT youth are still members of the only minority group ‘born into an enemy camp,’ subject to family and community disapproval and animus rather than loving support,” said Jack Dreshcer, MD of the American Psychiatric Association and New York Medical College. “The HRC survey’s findings present significant challenged to families, educators, clergy, mental health professionals, policy makers and government officials concerned about the well-being of LGBT youth.”
According to “Growing Up LGBT in America,” 42% of LGBT youth claim the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBT people while 92% say they hear negative messages about being LGBT, mostly from school, the Internet and peers. About 73% of those surveyed report being more honest about themselves online than in the real world.
For 26% of LGBT youth, not feeling accepted by their families, bullying and fear of being out rank as their biggest problems. In comparison, 22% of non-LGBT youth say their biggest problems are trouble with class, exams and grades. LGBT youth are also twice as likely to have been physically assaulted at school than their heterosexual peers.
The report also found that LGBT middle school students experienced much more harassment than their straight counterparts or LGBT high school students. Among middle school LGBT youth, 58% were excluded for being different, 67% have been verbally harassed and 28% have been physically assaulted at school.
The news is not all bad, though. About 9 in 10 LGBT youth claim they are out to their close friends and 64% are out to their classmates. 75% reported that most of their peers do not have a problem with their sexuality and 77% believe things will get better.
The Human Rights Campaign will continue to be engage in additional analysis to provide a better understanding of the unique experiences of specific groups, such as transgender youth, youth living in conservative states, youth of different races, religious traditions and so on. You can download the full survey here.