Not only does getting called “faggot” and being pushed around in the hallways lead some young people to take their own lives, it also can lead to serious health issues for those who survive it. From memory loss to hormonal “disruption” to bone density issues and cardiovascular problems, suffering through bullying is simply bad for your health, a Concordia University graduate school researcher concludes.
“This shows that homophobia is bad for your health,” said the study’s author, Michael Benibgui. The newly released study is the first to prove a biological link between homophobic bullying and long-lasting physical and psychological conditions, he said.
The study involved 63 Montrealers between the ages of 18 and 25 who answered questionnaires and provided saliva samples in 2003 and 2004, said Benibgui, who was doing his doctoral thesis at the time. Part of the study was made public in 2005, but Benibgui didn’t get around to releasing the rest until now. The results showed that victims of homophobia had disruptions in their output of cortisol, a hormone released in the brain as a response to stress. Normally, cortisol levels are highest in the morning and lowest in the evening, but those facing homophobic bullying consistently produced higher levels throughout the day, Benibgui said.
While the study did not directly gauge participants’ physical side effects, it is well-known that cortisol disruptions can lead to physical ailments. Besides measuring cortisol, the study’s main focus was on whether participants were more depressed or had more thoughts of suicide or suicide attempts.
Yes, this research needs to be peer-reviewed and repeated by others, but it’s saying what I think many of us always thought to be true: Even the kids who can survive until the end of high school don’t fully escape the effects of this torment.