The first nationwide study to ask high school students about their sexuality found that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers were at far greater risk for depression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers.... The survey documents what smaller studies have suggested for years, but it is significant because it is the first time the federal government’s biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the gold standard of adolescent health data collection, looked at sexual identity. The survey found that about 8 percent of the high school population described themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, which would be about 1.3 million students. These adolescents were three times more likely than straight students to have been raped. They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe; at least a third had been bullied on school property. And they were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property. More than 40 percent of these students reported that they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts to do so in the year before they took the survey.
1. This is fucking heartbreaking.
2. This is the first time the federal government asked about sexual orientation in the biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey—so we don't know if things are getting better or worse for LGB youth in high school. This is a snapshot in time; a hugely depressing data point, not a trend line. More data, please.
3. The feds didn't ask about gender identity—so there's nothing in this study about how trans kids are fairing in high school. But since most LGB kids are bullied for gender non-conformity, and since it's often gender non-conformity that outs kids who didn't choose to come out, it's safe to assume things are far, far worse for transgender high school students. (The CDC hopes to add a question about gender identity in 2017, so we may have that data two years from now. Also: these questions—about sexual orientation, about gender identity—wouldn't have been added under a Republican administration. Elections matter.)
4. When a study like this comes out—when a study comes out about violence directed at LGBT youth, or LGBT youth homelessness (a particularly destructive form of violence), or rising HIV-infection rates among young gay and bi men—the response is always, "What is the LGBT community going to do about this?" But the LGBT community doesn't run the schools where queer kids are being bullied, raped, and abused. The LGBT community can't shut down those "houses of worship" where LGBT kids are abused spiritually and their straight peers are given license to abuse them physically. The LGBT community doesn't parent the vast majority of LGBT kids. So the question shouldn't be, "What is the LGBT community going to do about this?", but rather, "What is the straight community going to do about this?"
The LGBT community will do what it can—we will scream and yell, we will give money to GLSEN, we will try our best to let LGBT kids know that life isn't high school and share our coping mechanisms and strategies for getting through it—but if decent and loving straight people don't do something, if decent and loving straight people don't take action, if there aren't social and legal consequences for indecent and unloving straight people (why aren't parents who throw their queer kids out charged with child endangerment?), this won't stop.
The LGBT community isn't bullying queer kids in high school. The LGBT community isn't throwing LGBT kids out onto the streets. The LGBT community isn't depriving LGBT kids of comprehensive, queer-inclusive sex education. Straight people are—straight peers, their straight parents, straight school boards and high school administrators.
Only a tiny percentage of LGBT kids have queer parents. So most of the queer kids being abused are your kids, straight people. What are you doing to help them?