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US high school survey findings conclude that LGBT teens are exceptionally prone to ‘risky behaviour’

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  1. Dan Filson 7 Jun 2011, 11:37am

    Although the sample size appears very large, I would need to know a bit more about methodologies, as this seems to be an aggregation exercise of a number of different student surveys, some of which may have been of whole (student?) population in an area and others may have been of LGBT population only. It is just possible that people in LGBT-only surveys speak more honestly and frankly than in general surveys (or vice versa). If the CDC is involved, I would normally expect a reasonable degree of statistical validity.

    I’m deeply concerned LGBT folk are not wearing their bicycle helmets. More seriously, I’m very worried about a high level of sexual risky behaviour. There’s too much talk about of ‘barebacking’ (anal sex without condoms) as if more pleasurable (which it may be), so encouraging people not to take precautions. It is however hardly surprising young LGBT people do not follow safe sex advice if there is no safe sex advice being given or any discussion of LGBT issues

    1. Stuart Neyton 7 Jun 2011, 5:55pm

      “I’m deeply concerned LGBT folk are not wearing their bicycle helmets”

      Seems like an odd thing to say. Is there any evidence that LGBT people are less likely to wear bike helmets? (I’m speaking here as a cyclist who seldom wears a helmet btw)

      1. Commander Thor 7 Jun 2011, 6:09pm

        I’m 24, and up till I was 22, I used to not really care about my safety when crossing main roads, walking through red lights, etc – I hoped at the time I’d have a fatal accident. I don’t know what motivates these kids, but a bleak outlook over one’s future means personal safety feels pointless.

  2. The logical next stage of research would be to compare LGBT youth who DO have good support from family, teachers etc with those who don’t and see if they are closer to the norm for risky behaviours.

    1. Dan Filson 7 Jun 2011, 12:14pm

      Good point, though potentially difficult to assemble survey groups

    2. Yes, and to find out WHY they engae in risky behaviour. Is it lack of education and fear of seeking advice? Is it pessimism about their life chances in general, leading to a kind of bravado? Knowing why would be interesting and would help to prevent risky behaviour amongst teens.

      1. Jan Bridget 7 Jun 2011, 1:04pm

        This is not news; it has only become news because of the first ever White House Summit on LGBT youth (I wonder how long it will take before we have a similar summit in England?) which probably came about because of the number of gay youth suicides last year and the resulting publicity.
        The Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys have been carried out for many years in different high schools. They were all student surveys in different parts of the US. If you want to see the actual report here is the link:
        With regard to the comment about comparing LGBT youth who DO have good support from family, teachers etc with those who don’t and see if they are closer to the norm for risky behaviours. This has, to some extent, already been done by Caitlyn Ryan and her team at the Family Acceptance Project (FAP), based at San Francisco State University: (their website seems to be down at the moment).

        1. Jan Bridget 7 Jun 2011, 1:04pm

          The point I want to make is that we will be having as many young LGBTs killing themselves in the UK as in the USA but they are hidden here. In the USA there is now very public acknowledgement of the issues LGBT young people face with an excellent response from the government – see
 for more information.

          The issues aren’t even on the table here. So while people debate and say that things are better in Britain, more and more LGBT young people are looking to suicide as a way out.

          1. Dan Filson 7 Jun 2011, 2:04pm

            Causes of suicides are sometimes, when clear cut, hushed up by coroners to protect families from instrusive media interest.

            I suspect the level of teen LGBT suicides is higher per million in the USA than in the UK partly because we have fewer loathsome ‘Christian’ and other faith homophobic organisations and partly because if you are rural and isolated in the States, you can be very isolated indeed.

          2. Jan Bridget 7 Jun 2011, 10:05pm

            Level of LGBT youth suicides in the UK might not be less than US. Our school surveys don’t include sexuality, therefore little evidence.

            GALYIC published data (50 interviews) with LGBT youth in 2008. Can’t make exact comparisons, and it’s a small sample, but it’s a snapshot of young LGBTs accessing GALYIC at that time:

            46% of GALYIC had alcohol problems, US – 26.1% of LGs binge drank;

            46% of GALYIC smoked, US – 30.5%;

            72% of GALYIC suicidal thoughts over lifetime, US – 29.6% over past year;

            56% of GALYIC attempted suicide over lifetime, US – 28% over past year.

            The situation is also bad here in Britain and we don’t have a Trevor Project, nor many Gay Straight Alliances; and few LGBT youth groups.

            A national research project is being launched; they hope to attract 15,000 LGBT young people; it will be several years before we have the data but this should give us a better idea and we should be able to compare different areas.

  3. Jock S. Trap 7 Jun 2011, 3:24pm

    Trouble is, are the Amercians Really surprised by these finding?
    and if so Why are they?
    Considering how the LGBTQI community is being treated.
    No doubt religion will blame our community and Not the fact that they treat our community so badly they are soley responsible.
    It is a disturbing poll but I’m not shocking in the wake of needing campaigns like ‘It Gets Better’.
    It’s these adults that make these teens feel like this that are to blame and unless they change I fear we will see much worse.
    Somehow though I very much doubt those religious folk will learn from it.
    Just carry on blaming everyone else but themselves.

    1. “Religion” is a broad and all-encompassing term which would include the thousands and thousands of LGBT Christians, Muslims, Jews, Pagans, and other believers.

      If by “religion” you meant something more specific (such as “religious bigots”), I’d agree. Otherwise, such trash talk is not appreciated. Fortunately, we benighted Americans allow it. U.K., authorities, of course, might take a narrower view.

      1. “Fortunately, we benighted Americans allow it.”

        LOL! Oh, yeah, Westboro Baptist Church are point in case of this enlightenment. Give me a break. The US is full to the hilt with religious freaks burning Qur’an’s and Harry Potter Books and screaming all sort of lunacy about gays causing hurricanes. 44% of your population thinks the earth is 6,000 years old and made by god in 7 days…. if this is a benighted view, then you really should dump it in favour of a real edcuation.

      2. Jock S. Trap 8 Jun 2011, 10:28am

        “such trash talk is not appreciated. Fortunately, we benighted Americans allow it”
        Yes is shows but it also shows through polls like this the consequences.
        You might highlight what you allow but while you allowing it who tends to these young people who don’t understand the bigotry and just see it as the hatred?
        Why do young people’s lives weight up a greater expendable than those who Choose the bigotted religion?

        “U.K., authorities, of course, might take a narrower view.”
        Not at all we just have a more respectful one, clearly!

  4. Staircase2 7 Jun 2011, 3:54pm

    “oppression F’s people up” its as simple as that – the more layers of oppression someon has experienced/endured the more likely they are to be multiply f’d up by those experiences.
    The wonder is that in ‘finding this information’ the surveyors were surprised by the findings. Prisons in the US and the UK are mostly full of uneducated risk-taking people from poorer/deprived backgrounds who has experienced multiple layers of oppression. It’s not rocket science to understand that if we want to stop most criminal behaviour then we need to stop the oppression that WE are putting upon them

  5. They used to say the same about black teenagers.

    1. Staircase2 9 Jun 2011, 12:15am

      ……..And for the same reasons – see what I wrote above

  6. My head is shaking and my mind boggles at the daily headlines I read out of the US. Who knows what to believe when so much of the content is so questionably tainted? Only the US could now throw guns in to the risky behavior aspects of LGBT youth. Is this another fear tactic? for example not once in all the High school and University massacres in the media has sexual identity been tied to any perpetrator.
    Guns in schools are a factor in many states which is why surprise they have metal detectors in many school districts. Why is this any different a risky behavior listed for LGBT than it is for straight youth in the US

    1. Jan Bridget 8 Jun 2011, 7:42am

      You are missing the point: taking guns into schools is considered a risky behaviour for all young people; all young people were asked this question. It isn’t more risky behaviour for LGBT young people than heterosexual youth unless they are, proportionately, more likely to take guns into school.
      I haven’t got the time to dig out any references but somewhere in the back of my mind I remember that sexual orientation was connected with one of the massacres.
      By the way, there is a lot of respect from researchers with regard to the Youth Risk Behaviour Surveys. This research is helping to improve things significantly for LGBT youth in the USA – as the CEO of the Trevor Project said, “For the first time, the challenges faced by lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are no longer invisible to policy and lawmakers on the national, state and local levels. As a broad population study, the CDC report validates the argument for stronger protections for sexual minority youth, and makes clear

      1. Jan Bridget 8 Jun 2011, 7:45am

        that suicide prevention must be an imperative of our federally elected officials.” Would that we had such research in Britain!

      2. David Myers 8 Jun 2011, 11:29am

        It was bullying (probably for preceived if not actual homosexuality) that “was connected with one of the massacres.” The universal and most commonly used method of bulling in schools is to call some one a fag or gay, whether it is true or not.

      3. Sorry Jan I don’t think I did miss the point! the headline clearly states “LGBT” and “more likely”
        “A report released in the US yesterday found that LGBT teens are more likely to engage in “risky behaviour” including smoking, drinking alcohol and carrying guns, than their heterosexual counterparts.” The article then states that riskier behavior was reported in 50-90% of categories (not students) without ever clearly identifying the percentage of LGBT Vs Straight students in the study. I then qualified “why is this a more risky behavior for LGBT than for Straight”

  7. This is not a surprise, but it is impossible to get anything done in the US without a ton of documentation. It is damn slow with it, but impossible without it. That is the whole point of all these studies. To protect all those “loving” families, the truth is also often hidden. Growing up gay has not become any easier for most young people in the US, in many places it has gotten worse. There are really only a few spots where you can actually feel safe. Not feeling safe, or wanted, rarely inspires the best choices. But that is often exactly what the ignorant religious nuts want, then they can point their dirty little fingers and say “see how they are”. The fact that their abhorrent immoral anti-christian, and usually quite deliberate, behavior caused the problems is rarely ever discussed.

  8. Elise Marie 16 Nov 2011, 7:49pm

    Greetings from Norway!

    I came over this site when reading about gay rights and The Trevor Project. Personally I am very passionated by all the important work that The Trevor Project is doing and about their crisis lifeline. I know how it is to be discriminated for being a lesbian, to be told I am sick for loving another woman. Enough is enough there should be equal rights for all no matter who you are or were you live.

    I am running my own fundraiser on a site called Crowdrise, here you can see it: there are many teammembers supporting it from all over the world. I would love you to become a teammember to and help support my fundraiser to raise more funds for helping gay teens.

    Elise Marie

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