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It Really Does Get Better for LGB Youth, Study Says

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.

 

Related Reading:

European Leaders: It Gets Better! (VIDEO)

“It Gets Better” TV Special to Air Tonight on MTV, Logo

Anna Paquin to LGBT Teens: It Gets Better

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Image credit: Thinkstock.

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49 comments

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4:16AM PST on Feb 20, 2013

Noted... copy&paste Kate R.

1:05PM PST on Feb 18, 2013

Good for the UK if this a valid study, but bullying is still a huge problem here in America and the Repugs are making it even worse.

7:46PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

I would like to see a major network run a show where people of all professions come on the show and tell their story of coming out. Policemen, Construction workers, nurses, doctors, movie stars and so forth. This might encourage young gay kids to fight the good fight and not give it to drugs, alcohol and suicide. Come on Networks lets see a show about something useful for a change.

6:02PM PST on Feb 17, 2013

bi-sexual is a state of mind not a state of being...many on the board are saying they are bi-sexual...I'm truly sorry but being bi is just being

11:18PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

Slowly but surely, teaching tolerance will win over.

1:00PM PST on Feb 16, 2013

I'm glad to read this. I had my doubts with this campaign.

9:49AM PST on Feb 15, 2013

a friends grandson is transexual and his grade school in hawaii is very understanding about his needs. that was a nice surprise.

10:45PM PST on Feb 14, 2013

It might be easier because more people are coming out in support of LBGT rights, so teens have someone they can talk to who understands what they're going through.

10:14AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

I'm glad that studies are being done on bullying against LBGT youth, and they are showing scientifically that it DOES get better, but more needs to be done to address the problem at its source. Stiffer penalties for bullies, better education and training for teachers and school staff, and more resources available to LBGT youth who are subjected to bullying.

12:03AM PST on Feb 14, 2013

I'm bisexual and have always known it. I grew up in a very conservative household. I didn't tell my mom and stepdad until I was 14. There initial reaction was to tell me that I had demons in me, was sick in the head, might go to Hell, it's not how they raised me, and that I should see a psychiatrist. I still remember the day I found out they signed anti-gay marriage petitions. They haven't disowned me as their daughter but they let me know that they do not want to be introduced to any girl I date, that if they run into me while I'm with a girlfriend they won't acknowledge me, and that if I marry a woman they aren't coming to the wedding.

I love them very much and they do support me a lot (despite thinking I am sinning with the bisexuality & paganism) and whenever they say something anti-gay/pagan I just take it as it being how they were raised and part of their spiritual beliefs and just shrug it off or debate them. But in someone else's home, if someone else had to deal with any of that, I can see how those kids might not be able to handle it.

I am glad that there are so many telling them that it Does Get Better. That there are people that support every part of them. That it is becoming mainstream. That many of their idols are coming out of the closet. That they are getting the right to marry in several states and maybe someday in all 50. That the President supports them.

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