On Thursday, June 07, 2012 the Human Rights Campaign released Growing up LGBT in Americaa report on the experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) youth. Their findings invite both hope and concern about the circumstances that many LGBT youth face. The survey found that, in the 13-17 year old age group, LGBT individuals were twice as likely to be verbally harassed, physically assaulted, and regularly excluded, leading to a higher instance of drug and alcohol usage than non-LGBT students. This prevalence of anti-LGBT bullying was also shown by a Government Accountability Office Report on School Bullying (released June 7, 2012) that pressed the need for LGBT students to be given clear legal protections against the debilitating harassment they face in the school environment.
Almost one-third of LGBT youth said they had no adult in their life they could talk to, and only 21% felt there was a safe place for them in their communities. Dishearteningly, over 90% reported hearing negative messages about being LGBT, with 46% saying the place they most often heard these messages was in their own homes. More than half of LGBT youth now believe that in order to be happy, they will have to leave their family and community.
Despite the often dismal circumstances of LGBT youth that this report illustrates, it also shows the strength and hope vested in these young adults. Even though they endure bullying, harassment and exclusion in many communities, 83% said they truly believed it would someday get better, and they would be happy in the future.
These statistics show how important it is that, as parents, family members, friends, and allies, we offer the greatest support and community possible to LGBT youth and give them a safe space to be themselves. PFLAG’s unique family and ally voice is crucial to showing LGBT youth our enduring support.
Take Action: Contact your Elected Officials and urge them to support legislation that ensures that all youths have a safe and loving environment to grow up in. This legislation includes the Student Non-Discrimination Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act and the Every Child Deserves a Family Act. Click here to find your elected officials by entering your zip code, and encourage them to create safe and supportive communities for everyone in the PFLAG family.