It Really Does Get Better for LGB Youth, Study Says
A new study confirms in broad terms that life really does get better for bullied LGB youth.
The study was carried out by researchers in England who examined data from a cohorts study of 4,135 teenagers carried out between 2004-2010. The researchers focused on a sample of 187 LGB identifying kids to ascertain the level and duration of the bullying they suffered compared to their heterosexual peers.
The researchers found that more than half of the LGB kids reported being bullied at the start of the study and that, broadly speaking, LGB kids are almost twice as likely to experience bullying in high school. The study also notes a disparity between boys and girls with slightly higher bullying rates among adolescent boys. There was also evidence that the bullying of gay and male bisexual teens persisted for significantly longer than against lesbian and bisexual girls.
However, an overall downward trend was marked. By the end of the study in 2010, the figures of kids being bullied dropped from that more than 50 percent figure to around only 9 percent of the sample’s boys and 6 percent of the girls.
The reason for this startling drop has been put down to a “sea change” in attitudes toward LGB people that went on during the data collection period. What’s more, the researchers think these results may more or less reflect a change in the USA too.
However, the study also points out that England’s tough stance on bullying and in particular its directive that state schools must address anti-LGBT bullying will also have played a big part in creating a more positive environment for those participating in the study.
In addition, co-author Joseph Robinson, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois, is quoted as pointing out that “Bullying tends to decline with age regardless of sexual orientation and gender.”
With these three factors combined, the researchers have been confident enough to conclude that, “In absolute terms, this would suggest that yes, it gets better.”
The study, which appears online in the journal Pediatrics, recommends that bullying must be addressed in order to give all kids a positive experience but the study also suggests that further intervention may be needed when it comes to anti-LGB bullying specifically.
Tragically, a painful reminder that outreach to LGBTQ and questioning youth is still very necessary came this past week after Jadin Bell, a sophomore at La Grande High School in Oregon who tried to commit suicide by hanging himself from playground equipment, died after being taken off life-support.
While the specific reasons for his suicide have not been revealed, Jadin was known to have frequently been bullied for his being perceived to be gay and different.
As a reaction to a swathe of LGBT teen suicides in the U.S, columnist Dan Savage set up the It Gets Better campaign that encourages people to record messages of hope and affirmation for LGBT teens. The idea has always been, however, that the It Gets Better message only works when we actively make it better for LGBTQ youth and all those who face bullying, something this latest study serves to underline in very real terms.
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