Study Shows Long-Term Consequences To Prejudice-Motivated Bullying And Victimization

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender young adults who experience high levels of anti-LGBT victimization as teens are 5.6 times more likely to report suicide attempts, twice as likely to be clinically depressed, and more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with a sexually transmitted disease by young adulthood.

Those are some of the important results from a new Family Acceptance Project report published this week in the Journal of School Health. It’s the first of its kind to look at the long-term effects of targeted anti-LGBT bullying in schools. These results fly in the face of those who claim that bullying is simply a rite of passage that everybody must endure, demonstrating that when LGBT people are specifically targeted for their sexual orientation or gender identity, the consequences are significant and lasting.

Indeed, as this chart from the study demonstrates, high levels of LGBT victimization correlate significantly with depression (Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression), suicide attempts (including those requiring medical attention), STDs, and risk of HIV infection:

The results show just how disingenuous opponents of marriage equality are in their latest regurgitations of “protect our children” messaging. The National Organization for Marriage continues to try to scare New York voters with videos calling for “consequences for kids” and mailers asserting that letting kids learn about same-sex families is “wrong, but it can be stopped.” The real message opponents stand behind, of course, is that “those who practice [homosexuality] deserve death,” and it is exactly by keeping affirmative messages out of schools they allow for just that.

A number of federal bills would help curb the impact of bullying and victimization young people experience, including the Student Non-Discrimination Act, the Safe Schools Improvement Act, the Tyler Clementi Act, and the Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act. The health and well-being of young people depend upon protections and interventions that are currently not available to them.