The Los Angeles Times reports that despite the progress made recently in regards to gay rights (President Obama has repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and come out in support of gay marriage, for example), gay youth are the most likely to report harassment and overwhelmingly report being unhappy in general.
The study says that half of all gay youth reported being harassed at school, as opposed to about 25 percent of non-LGBT teens. Similarly, twice as many homosexual teens reported being physically assaulted than heterosexual teens. Guys, this is horrifying!
Not surprisingly, then, fewer than half of the gay youth surveyed felt accepted by their peers and communities, with 63 percent of them saying they would have to move to another city or town to feel welcome. Do you know how hard it is to feel like an outsider in your own hometown? Gay youth in the survey were also over twice as likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol as their hetero peers. This is likely due, at least in part, with gay youth trying to escape and suppress the pain they’re feeling because they’re so tormented, not only by their peers, but also by themselves.
A heartbreaking case in point? In addition to feeling the need to leave their hometowns, many gay youth feel like they have to leave their own homes. A lot of the teens surveyed didn’t feel accepted by their own families. As a result, many gay youth are “out” more at school than at home. This lack of crucial and important acceptance plays a huge role in someone’s outlook on life in general and may explain further why so many reported being unhappy, with one respondent telling a story of how he lived on the street because he felt like he had no place to go.
Perhaps if bullies and people ignorant enough to think people choose to be gay saw this report, they’d change their tunes. No one wakes up in the morning and says, “You know what? I want to get beat up in the hall at school today. I want people to call me names at lunch. I want to have to hide my identity from my dad.” No one wants that and no one deserves that.
And if you are one of the girls or guys out there who feels sad, scared, lost, or just plain out alone? There’s help. The Trevor Project is amazing and has counselors on hand to talk to you at 866-488-7386. They even have an online chat program where you can type instead of talking if that’s easier for you.
One silver lining to this extremely dark cloud? Many gay youth in the survey reported finding safe havens online (like at Gurl!) where they were free and unafraid to be themselves. We just need this virtual freedom, acceptance, tolerance, and security to extend to the rest of the world–and ladies, it starts with you!
Do you agree that gay youth are less likely to be happy? Have you or a friend ever been harassed or bullied because of your sexuality? Tell us in the comments.