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Human Rights Campaign's 2018 Youth Survey Finds LGBTQ Kids Are Suffering

by Kilian Melloy
Thursday May 17, 2018

The Human Rights Campaign's "2018 LGBTQ Youth Report" surveyed 12,000 participants, with the results showing that the country's gay kids are suffering in the current political climate.

The survey was conducted in partnership with the University of Connecticut. Its findings "reveal persistent, serious challenges for LGBTQ youth," the report's Introduction states. "In many cases, the cards remain stacked against LGBTQ-identified youth in terms of acceptance and support from their families, their mental health, and safety in schools.

"For LGBTQ youth of color," the report adds, "these challenges are compounded by racism and race-related stressors."

The report delves into the fears and challenges faced by LGBTQ kids at home, in their schools, and in their communities. Many respondents feared that if they were to come out to their families they would be tossed out of their homes or shipped off to so-called "conversion" therapy, a pseudo-scientific approach to homosexuality that attempts to "cure" it by turning gay kids straight.

The practice has been condemned as ineffective and psychologically scarring, and has drawn such harsh criticism from reputable mental health care experts - and resulted in such chilling first-hand accounts from survivors of the practice - that it has been banned for use on minors in a number of states and localities.

The report also shows that the social and political cost of being trans is even higher and harsher than for being gay, bisexual, or queer - all the more so for kids who don't enjoy the benefits automatically conferred on their white peers.

"The results highlight the challenges facing LGBTQ youth, particularly transgender young people and people of color, who have experienced ongoing efforts by the Trump-Pence administration to undermine their rights - from rescinding lifesaving guidance promoting equitable treatment of transgender students and refusing to investigate complaints filed by transgender students who face discrimination in school facilities, to racist immigration policies and giving shameful passes to hate groups and white supremacists," a HRC press release about the study noted.

Among the key findings, the release said, are these:

Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ teenagers surveyed report feeling depressed or down over the past week;
• Ninety-five percent of LGBTQ youth report trouble sleeping at night;
• LGBTQ youth of color and transgender teenagers experience unique challenges and elevated stress -- only 11 percent of youth of color surveyed believe their racial or ethnic group is regarded positively in the U.S., and over 50 percent of trans and gender-expansive youth said they can never use school restrooms that align with their gender identity;
• More than 70 percent report feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness in the past week;
• Only 26 percent say they always feel safe in their school classrooms -- and just five percent say all of their teachers and school staff are supportive of LGBTQ people;
• Sixty-seven percent report that they've heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people

"Our strong research partnership with HRC reflects a shared sense of urgency to address the significant health and well-being disparities facing LGBTQ teens," said Dr. Ryan Watson, an assistant professor at the University of Connecticut. "This collaboration has potential to shape prevention, intervention and treatment related to school and family experiences; weight-related health; and victimization of LGBTQ youth."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


  • , 2018-05-18 03:35:23

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