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YOUTH
 

HRC: LGBTQ Youth Report

National Safe Schools Coalition
Keaton Jones: Why Do They Bully?

Respect for All Project
Info: LGBTQ Bullying

Video: LGBTQ Band Camp

Teaching Tolerance
TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth

AAMFT: Gay and Lesbian Youth

Video: Interview with LGBTQ High Schoolers

 

LGBTQ Youth at Risk

 

While many minority groups are the target for prejudice and discrimination in our society, few persons face this hostility without the support and acceptance of their family as do many gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer youth.

LGBTQ young people are increasingly visible in our schools. Why? Probably partly because young people in general are reaching puberty at younger ages than they did in generations past. And probably partly because sexual minority young people are growing up in the midst of a civil rights movement, feeling both an urgency and an increasing sense of community in their normal adolescent quests for identity and integrity.

 

Recent studies have shown that, on average, lesbian and gay youth first become aware of their same-gender attractions at an average of 9-10 years old and first identify as lesbian or gay at an average of 14-16 years old.

 

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, "Most lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) youth are happy and thrive during their adolescent years. Going to a school that creates a safe and supportive learning environment for all students and having caring and accepting parents are especially important. This helps all youth achieve good grades and maintain good mental and physical health. However, some LGBTQ youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience difficulties in their lives and school environments, such as violence."
 

The Trevor Project
It Gets Better Project

ABC News: Sexual Minority Youth At Risk of Violence

We Are Family

Info: Encouragement for LGBTQ Youth in Crisis

Broadway Kids Against Bullying: I Have a Voice

Keaton Jones: Why Do They Bully?

Gay People Are Coming Out Younger

CDC Health Report: LGTBQ Teens

Info: Stop Bullying

GLSEN: LGBTQ Students Not Safe at School

Broadway for Orlando: Love Sweet Love

AMA: Preventing Suicide in LGBTQ Youth

CDC: LGBTQ Youth Resources

 

LGBTQ Youth Statistics

Nine out of 10 LGBTQ students (86.2%) experienced harassment at school.  Three-fifths (60.8%) felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation.  And about one-third (32.7%) skipped a day of school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.

-GLSEN National School Climate Survey 2009

LGBTQ students are three times as likely as non-LGBTQ students to say that they do not feel safe at school (22% vs. 7%) and 90% of LGBTQ students (vs. 62% of non-LGBTQ teens) have been harassed or assaulted during the past year.

-GLSEN From Teasing to Torment 2006

 

Sexual minority youth, or teens that identify themselves as LGBTQ, are bullied two to three times more than heterosexuals.

-Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, OH 2010

Almost all transgender students had been verbally harassed, called names, or threatened in the past year at school because of their sexual orientation (89%) and gender expression (89%).

-GLSEN: Harsh Realities, Experiences of Transgender Youth In Our Nation’s Schools 2009

LGBTQ youth in rural communities and those with lower adult educational attainment face particularly hostile school climates.

-Greytak & Diaz, Journal of Youth & Adolescence 2009
 


 

LGBTQ adolescents are 190 percent more likely to use drugs and alcohol than are heterosexual teens.

-Marshal & Friedman, Addiction Journal 2008

It is estimated that between 20 and 40 percent of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ.

-National Gay & Lesbian Task Force: An Epidemic of Homelessness 2006

 

62% of homeless LGBTQ youth will attempt suicide at least once—more than two times as many as their heterosexual peers.

-Van Leeuwen JMm, Child Welfare 2005

 

Teen Kicked Out of Her Prom for Wearing a Tuxedo

Lesbian Couple Voted First-Ever High School Prom Queen and Queen

Video: Interview with LGBTQ High Schoolers

Info: LGBTQ Bullying

Teen Learns to Accept His Sexuality & Gender in Different Ways

Video: High School Seniors Attend First Queer Prom

Trans Student in North Carolina Nominated for Homecoming King

Info: Encouragement for LGBTQ Youth in Crisis

Gay Teens Crowned Homecoming King and Queen

Video: LGBTQ Band Camp

Cutest Prom Couple

Gay Texas Teen Comes Out in Graduation Speech

 

 

Fear of the Future

 

In July 2015, street photographer Brandon Stanton, the creator of the popular on-line photo blog Humans of New York, posted a picture that has proven exceptional even for a Facebook page with 13 million followers.

"I'm homosexual and I'm afraid about what my future will be and that people won't like me," reads the caption of a photo of a tearful boy.

 

The shot is of a boy with downcast eyes and his forehead in his hand. The boy is sitting on a stoop, dressed in a crisp, white shirt and a mint-colored sweater.

Within 24 hours, the Facebook post earned more than 500,000 likes, 45,000 shares and a response from presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

The former secretary of state offered the following words of comfort: "Prediction from a grown-up: Your future is going to be amazing. You will surprise yourself with what you're capable of and the incredible things you go on to do. Find the people who love and believe in you -- there will be lots of them."

 

Other commenters on the photo included:

George Takei, actor and director: “Looks like you’ve got a head start. 620,000 people ‘like’ you already. I’m honored to be one of them.”

Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco and current lieutenant governor of California: “You are so brave and I’m very proud of you. I understand why you’re scared, but all you have to do is look through these comments to see that we are all on your side. You have so many opportunities ahead of you. The best is yet to come. I promise!”

Ellen DeGeneres: “Not only will people like you, they’ll love you. I just heard of you and I love you already.”
 

Time: Hillary Clinton Comments on Photo of Young Boy

Newsweek: Photo Prompts Personal response From Hillary Clinton

People: Hillary Clinton Sends Touching Comment to Young Boy

 

Statistics: Bullying and Harassment of LGBTQ Youth

--84% of LGBTQ youth reported being verbally harassed at school
--39% of LGBTQ youth reported being physically harassed at school
--90% of LGBTQ youth reported hearing homophobic remarks from classmates
--82% of LGBTQ youth reported that faculty and staff never intervened when homophobic remarks were made in their presence
--39% of LGBTQ youth reported hearing homophobic remarks from faculty and staff
--9 out of 10 LGBTQ youth have experienced some kind of anti-gay harassment at school
--60% of LGBTQ youth felt unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation or gender identity
--LGBTQ youth are bullied 2 to 3 times more often than their straight peers
--LGBTQ youth are 190% more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol than their straight peers
--44% of LGBTQ youth have been the target of harassment, verbal abuse, and physical abuse at home
--49% of LGBTQ youth have been the target of anti-gay hate acts at school
--48% of LGBTQ youth were the target of discrimination, harassment and violence at work, including 15% who were fired
--39% of LGBTQ youth report acts of vandalism, threats, and assault in their neighborhoods and communities
--LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers

--30% of all teen suicides are committed by LGBTQ youth (Suicide is the leading cause of death among LGBTQ youth)

 

The Trevor Project
It Gets Better Project

ABC News: Sexual Minority Youth At Risk of Violence

Gay People Are Coming Out Younger

Keaton Jones: Why Do They Bully?

TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth

CDC Health Report: LGTBQ Teens

GLSEN: LGBTQ Students Not Safe at School

Broadway Kids Against Bullying: I Have a Voice

Info: LGBTQ Youth in Crisis

AMA: Preventing Suicide in LGBTQ Youth

CDC: LGBTQ Youth Resources

 

Challenges of LGBTQ Adolescents

A new generation of LGBTQ youth are coming of age in a society increasingly tolerant and yet still deeply divided about homosexuality. On one hand, there is increased openness, media attention, and an older generation of openly gay and lesbian role models. On the other hand, there is an increased backlash in the form of religious fundamentalism, violence, and legal intervention designed to "protect" traditional marriages and families. Sexual minority or queer youth are coming out younger than ever before and many are coming out in middle school and high school, while still living at home. Coming out, in some cases, then, has become a family affair.

Some families have experience with sexual minority status, either because there is someone in the family who is not heterosexual or they have family friends who are sexual minorities. However, most youth who come out while living at home are in families who have not had direct experience with queer individuals. Family therapists, familiar with the trials and tribulations of sexual identity, and experts on how to help families deal with difficult issues, are perfectly situated to be helpful.

 

Heterosexism is the unacknowledged belief that heterosexual people are normal, while other groups of people are not normal. Homophobia is the fear of homosexual people, which usually expresses itself in negative views of them. It is practically impossible to be raised in a heterosexist, homophobic culture like ours and not be influenced by some of the negative messages that swirl around on a daily basis about sexual minority people.

 

The Trevor Project
It Gets Better Project

Video: LGBTQ Band Camp

ABC News: Sexual Minority Youth At Risk of Violence

Video: Interview with LGBTQ High Schoolers

Gay People Are Coming Out Younger

Video: High School Seniors Attend First Queer Prom

CDC Health Report: LGTBQ Teens

How to Start a Gay-Straight Alliance at Your School

GLSEN: LGBTQ Students Not Safe at School

Broadway Kids Against Bullying: I Have a Voice

Info: Encouragement for LGBTQ Youth in Crisis

When an adolescent is different, it may create a family crisis. If the crisis leads to such distance from parents that they are no longer available to help the child develop, the family is not providing the necessary ingredients for development, and problems erupt. While difference is difficult, it is particularly difficult for sexual minority kids who sometimes feel as if they are growing up in enemy territory. Sexual minority youth often grow up loved but unknown. In many minority populations the older generation serve as models for the younger generation about how to live in an environment that oppresses them. However, most sexual minority youth grow up in families with heterosexual parents who may not understand the oppression, and who even may be a part of this oppression. Family therapy can help create a context in which open dialogue can occur so that the family is able to get back on track and nurture its youth.

 

Sexual minority youth, like all youth, follow their own paths toward self discovery, but they face special challenges. Youth who know they are LGBTQ have a sense of their difference for a while before they tell anyone. There is about a two-year period for most youth when they self-identify as non-heterosexual but keep this information to themselves. Remember, youth assume, like everyone else, that they are heterosexual. To have the knowledge that they are different, they must hold conflicting ideas in their head at the same time. "I am normal and I have feelings that are abnormal and wrong, so the feelings must be wrong or I don't really have these feelings." When youth do come out to others, it is usually to a trusted friend, and rarely to a parent first. The process of coming out and wiping away the last vestiges of internalized homophobia takes years, and sometimes, a lifetime.
 

HRC: LGBTQ Youth Report

National Safe Schools Coalition
Info:
Encouragement

Respect for All Project
We Are Family

Teaching Tolerance
AAMFT: Gay and Lesbian Youth

Info: LGBTQ Bullying

TED Talk: Problems Facing LGBTQ Youth

 

Youth who are openly struggling with the probability that they are not heterosexual can frighten parents. Most heterosexual parents assume their children will be heterosexual. When dreaming about the lives their children will lead, a same-sex partner is not part of the picture. Entertaining the idea creates fear and anxiety. Parents are afraid for a range of reasons. Most worry about the rejection their children will face and fear for their children's safety. They have heard hateful comments all their lives about homosexuals and know their child will be punished. Life is more difficult if you are not part of the mainstream, and some parents believe that homosexual behavior is sinful. Some recognize that their child's exploration poses difficult questions, which challenge all they think they know about gender, sexuality, and identity. They question their own parenting and wonder where they went wrong. The belief that they have control over their children's sexual identity may mislead parents to discourage atypical gender behavior so their child will turn out straight. Some may believe that once they relinquish control over something so basic as gender and sexual orientation, any control over the child becomes an illusion.

 



Families should seek help any time their adolescent withdraws from them more than is comfortable. Many sexual minority youth hide because it is difficult to reconcile the person they feel developing inside them with the person they are expected to be by everyone else. When youth come out to their families, they risk a great deal. Adolescents are dependent on their families for physical and emotional support. If they misjudge their parents, they have a great deal to lose. They may feel they can be themselves and risk rejection, or live a lie. Sexual minority youth, unlike members of other minority groups, cannot, and do not, expect their families to accept or tolerate their identity, much less help them nurture it and protect themselves.

Families should also seek help when their adolescent is acting out in dangerous ways. Most sexual minority youth have been ridiculed or experience verbal and physical threats of violence by their peers because they do not fit in. Those most likely to be abused are those who do not fit gender role stereotypes or those who live in communities that are openly homophobic. Many youth are verbally and physically attacked by family members who unwittingly denigrate their children for not living up to hetero-sexist expectations. Some of these youth act out during adolescence because they do not have the resources to manage their pain.

Family therapists who are knowledgeable about sexual minority youth will work towards creating a safe refuge for youth and their families. They will help family members evaluate the negative messages they receive from the culture about minority sexuality, teach families the facts, and work towards family members deciding themselves that which they believe. Family therapists will help family members talk with one another about their different beliefs in a way that encourages difficult, yet important dialogue. Family therapists will help families get back on track towards nurturing their adolescent's growth and development, and they will help members see that the uniqueness of each child is a gift and a blessing.

[Source: Linda Stone Fish and Rebecca G. Harvey, AAMFT]

 

 

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