Survey Said Bullying Of LGBTQ Kids Has Effect On Mental Health

More Than 70 Percent Of LGBTQ Teens Surveyed Felt Feelings Of Worthlessness Or Hopelessness

June 15, 2018 - 1:23 pm

CARSON CITY, NV (KXNT) - A majority of teens who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer struggle with feelings of depression and anxiety, according to a new nationwide survey. Advocates say harassment at school contributes to the issue, but policymakers could do more to prevent bullying and promote inclusivity. June is LGBT Pride Month. 

A new survey shows high rates of depression and anxiety among L-G-B-T-Q teens nationwide. Advocates say lawmakers could do more to ensure kids aren't bullied based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Human Rights Campaign surveyed 12-thousand kids age 13-to-17 who identify as L-G-B-T-Q. Ellen Kahn, with the Human Rights Campaign, says more than 70 percent of teens surveyed reported feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness, and the majority had experienced verbal threats.

"These mental-health challenges are directly a result of what's happening to these kids by people around them, being harassed, being treated poorly, being stigmatized, facing discrimination. That has a cumulative effect," said Ellen Kahn, Director, Children, Youth and Families Program, Human Rights Campaign.

The L-G-B-T-Q community has had some cultural milestones in recent years, including the legalization of gay marriage in 2015, but Kahn says discrimination and harassment still are common.

Kahn said if lawmakers want to protect students, they should enact policies that specifically address anti-L-G-B-T-Q bullying, and establish guidelines for inclusivity training for teachers and school staff. Nevada is one of only 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, that has enacted a law to protect students from bullying based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

"That significantly decreases anti-LGBTQ bullying, it improves the experience of students who are more likely to hear positive statements about who they are, so school culture is a huge factor," Kahn said.

Kahn added that many L-G-B-T-Q teens report that they are comfortable coming out to their peers. But, she says more support from educators, policymakers and other adults could pave the way to improving students' emotional well-being.