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Bullying Among Children and Youth on Perceptions and Differences in Sexual Orientation (page 2)

— Stop Bullying Now! U.S. Department of Health and Human Services HRSA
Updated on Sep 29, 2010

The Effects of Anti-LGBT Bullying and Harassment

  • Surveys of teens indicate that anti-LGBT bullying affects greater numbers of straight students than sexual minority youth. For every lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth who is bullied, four straight students who are perceived to be gay or lesbian are bullied.6
  • The stigma and hostilities youth experience from anti-LGBT bullying makes them prone to health risk behaviors, such as skipping school, smoking, alcohol and drug use, and sexual risk. These same risks exist for heterosexual youth perceived to be lesbian or gay, as for non-heterosexual youth who keep their sexual orientation hidden.7
  • Lesbian and gay youth who openly admit to their same-sex orientations are at a higher risk of bias-related violence, including physical assaults. The hostilities they regularly confront often lead to dangerous behaviors and injurious outcomes, such as dropping out of school, abusing alcohol and illicit drugs, engaging in criminal activity, and running away from home.8
  • Adolescents who are lesbian, gay, or bisexual are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to be depressed and think about or attempt suicide.9

What Schools and Communities Can Do

  • Schools with anti-bullying policies must clarify that teasing and exclusion based on sexual orientation is prohibited. In the 2005 Harris Interactive survey, students from schools with explicit policies on sexual and gender identification were less likely to report a serious harassment problem (33 percent vs. 44 percent), and reported higher rates of feeling safe at school (54 percent vs. 36 percent) and, consequently, were one-third less likely to skip a class.10
  • Schools need to consider adding sexual orientation and gender identity to school policies on discrimination and harassment. This sends the message to the school community that no one should be treated differently because of an admitted or presumed sexual orientation.11
  • Schools, clubs, camps, after school and summer programs, and every youth-serving organization should train staff and volunteers on effective bullying prevention methods and interventions (see Best Practices in Bullying Prevention and On-the-Spot Interventions factsheets). Schools and communities must create safe, non-biased and supportive environments for all children and youth which will reduce the hazards and stresses for sexual minority youth.12
  • Schools can provide age-appropriate instruction on sexual orientation in health and sexuality curricula. Communities can ensure inclusiveness in social, recreational, and sports programming to set an accepting tone of diverse identities. 13 Concerns about bullying or harassment of LGBT youth should be discussed with youth. By avoiding the subject, parents and other adults may convey an attitude of indifference, or worse, an unspoken acceptance of the harassment experienced by LGBT youth.13
  • Concerns about bullying or harassment of LGBT youth should be discussed with youth. By avoiding the subject, parents and other adults may convey an attitude of indifference, or worse, an uspoken acceptance of the harassment experienced by LGBT youth.14
  • Additional supports may be needed when anti- LGBT bullying is detected to guarantee access to qualified health care and mental health providers who are knowledgeable and skilled in health promotion and risk reduction in working with LGBT and questioning youth.15
  • Clinical guidelines by the American Academy of Pediatrics encourage pediatricians to help raise awareness among community leaders on issues of adolescent sexuality and specifically relative to sexual minority youth, to provide facts about sexual orientation in school and community libraries, and to develop support groups for minority sexual youth, their friends, and their parents.16

When youth reveal same-sex attractions and relationships, this is an opportunity for health, medical, and school professionals to better inform and support sexual minority youth by linking them with community resources and helping to overcome the tensions of parents, families and peers.

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