A new survey of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender young people has revealed that nearly half of America is hostile to them. And most of the youth say they plan on moving away from where they were raised.
The survey run by the Human Rights Campaign is of more than 10,000 LGBT-identified youth ages 13-17. 42 percent say they live somewhere where they are not accepted and 63 percent plan to move somewhere else.
One exception was California, where 62 percent of gay kids there said that they lived somewhere which accepted them.
Using a control group of 500 straight-identified youth, they found that the LGBT youth were twice as likely to say they had been physically assaulted at school. Gay kids were most likely to cite acceptance as their “biggest problem,” whereas for straight kids it was their grades.
In another sign of the huge changes going on with LGBT people over the past few decades, most gay kids said that they are “out” to their very close friends and three quarters say that most of their peers don’t have a problem with them being gay — but only 63 percent are “out” to their families. Three quarters of them say that they’re at their most genuine in their online lives and must to some extent conceal their natures in real-world interactions. Twice as many gay kids as straight say they’ve used drugs or alcohol.
HRC says that their report is based on “the largest known sample of LGBT youth from every region of the country, from urban, suburban and rural communities, and from a wide variety of social, cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds.” They say:
The deck is stacked against young people growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender in America. Official government discrimination or indifference along with social ostracism leaves many teens disaffected and disconnected in their own homes and neighborhoods. With an increase in public awareness about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment and the strikingly high number of LGBT youth who are homeless, in foster care, or living in high-risk situations, it is critical that we get a better understanding of the experiences, needs, and concerns of LGBT youth.
Linda Spears, vice president of policy for the Child Welfare League of America, told the Los Angeles Times that the study bears out “our worst fears about LBGT kids.”
These kids are often so vulnerable in the way their lives are being led because of the lack of support they have. They need what all young people need, parents and others who are there for them and nurture their development.
One good data point from the survey though: 77 percent of gay kids agree that “it will get better.”
Image source HRC