University of ArizonaNorton School of Family and Consumer Sciences

Study: Bullying of LGBT students has long-term health effects

A new study shows that LGBT students who experienced high levels of school victimization are more likely to report physical and mental health problems in early adulthood.

San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project, the only community research, intervention, education and policy initiative that works to decrease rejection of LGBT children, conducted the study with 245 California LGBT adults between the ages 21-25.

Out of the participants, 90 percent reported hearing the word ‘gay’ in a derogatory way, 85 percent had been verbally harassed due to their sexual orientation, and 44 percent reported physical harassment.

LGBT students who reported high levels of victimization, compared to those who reported low levels of victimization, were 2.6 times more likely to report depression above the clinical cut off, and 5.6 times more likely to report having attempted suicide at least once, and having a suicide attempt that required medical attention, the study showed.

Also, students who reported high levels of victimization were more than twice as likely to having reported a STD diagnosis, and having been at risk for HIV infection.

In comparison, LGBT young adults who reported low levels of victimization reported higher levels of self-esteem, life satisfaction and social integration compared to those who experienced higher levels of victimization.

Gay and bisexual men and transgender young adults reported higher levels of victimization, compared to lesbian and bisexual women.

“I think it is consistent with the idea that violating gender norms is a bigger problem for men,” lead author Stephen Russell, a professor at the University of Arizona, said in an interview. There is more space for women to be masculine then for men to be feminine, he said.

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