bad kids

Study Shows How High School Bullies Keep Trying to Mess Up Your Life as an Adult

We all know that bullying kills. But now we have some real hard data on exactly how deadly anti-gay harassment really can be, even years after you’ve left high school behind.

According to the study, adults who were harassed as kids are 5.6 times more likely to attempt suicide, 2.6 times more likely to report clinical depression, and 2.5 times as likely to have been diagnosed with an STD.

Of course, this doesn’t exactly mean that bullying = suicide. Plenty of kids make it through the awfulness of high school and into happy adulthood. Support is out there, nobody has to suffer alone in silence, and suicide isn’t a foregone consequence of anti-gay harassment.


When organizations like NOM and individuals like Ruban Diaz endorse messages like “Those who practice such things are worthy to death,” they’re knowingly putting kids at risk.

The study was conduced by the Family Acceptance Project and published in the American School Health Association’s Journal of School Health. And it’s not all bleak news: it’s easy to mitigate the risk by implementing anti-discrimination and anti-bullying policies. Policies like the Safe Schools Act, which has been drifting around Congress for years.

We wouldn’t tolerate a school bus driver who’s been empirically proven to be 5.6 times more likely to crash a bus. Why do we tolerate teachers, pastors, and parents who jeopardize kids’ safety through bullying?

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  • Adam

    And like Dan Savage keeps saying, kids who are bullied in high school for being nerdy can at least go home to their parents, kids who are bullied for being gay go home and are further bullied for it.

  • Jeffree

    That bullying gets targeted at all kinds of kids: LGB (or perceived to be LGB), gender non-conforming, poor, too fat / too skinny, ugly, “stupid,” “teachers’ pet” ethnic minority, etc.

    What gets swept under the rug is that bullied kids seem to be MORE likely to bully others than those who fly below the radar more. There’s some sort of pecking order involved, which I bet varies from school to school.

    I’m no innocent: I got picked on for being poor & having lots of learning problems. And I did my part to spread the hate around to the classmates who “looked funny.”

    When a new principal took over, she set zero tolerance policy: after a good number of us had to have our parents come in for meetings, this settled down by November. Not perfect results, but a much calmer environment.

    And I still bristle when someone makes fun of me for some things. And I am now unusuallly kind to “funny looking people”!

  • Cam


    Excellent point.

  • Armand

    To stop being bullied, grow some balls. Gay or straight.

    Why must our gay community always portray ourselves as the victim?

  • Jeffree

    @Armand: Be more specific, please. “Grow some balls” is a pithy slogan, but what do you say to a 6th grader that would actually *help*?

  • paul f

    @Jeffree: Take karate lessons? Most likely can’t afford them even if they were available.

  • Armand

    @Jeffree: I would tell the 6th grader to grow some balls.

  • Armand

    @paul f: Private karate lessons are free. Search youtube.

  • Jeffree

    Oh yeah: I got Karate & Tae Kwan Do lessons for real cheap at the county rec center. Some Y’s have (sliding scale) programs too. (I know that’s not available everywhere though)

    There are also lots of so-called “self defense” classes out there geared often geared to women, but the principles are the same & can be taught even to younger folks (of all genders!!)

  • Habit Rouge

    The problem with bullying has to do with tolerance, the kind you can only learn at home at a young age. Until we become a society tolerant and respectful of everyone (and pass that off to the children) this problem ain’t going away.

  • ritu

    hey I was very surprised when I read adults who were harassed as kids are 5.6 times more likely to attempt suicide, 2.6 times more likely to report clinical depression, and 2.5 times as likely to have been diagnosed with an STD. Really nice discussion on this topic. I read whole content and I found interesting information about high schools programs. Informative article.

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