Bullying in any form is something that devastates people, but especially kids, every day. Kids that identify themselves as being LGBT youth, however, are at an even greater risk of suffering from the tortures of a bully every day more than any other demographic. Even kids who are perceived as being LGBT youth are at a greater risk to experience bullying.
Almost 30% of all completed youth suicides are related to a crisis that is in regards to sexual identity.
The second most common reason why students are bullied today is because of their known or perceived sexual orientation or expression of their gender. The only reason above this is because of their physical appearance. Because the teenage years are such an important developmental part of life, the influences of a bully can last for years to come.
Three Facts to Consider Right Now
1. 90% of LGBT teens report that they have been bullied at least once during the last school year because of their sexual orientation.
2. 25% of LGBT teens report that they have been assaulted simply because of their sexual orientation.
3. Boys are more likely to be bullied because of their sexual orientation.
Takeaway: In some ways, bullying has been glorified as part of the whole process of growing up and that is just unfortunate. Although bullying is commonplace, that doesn’t make it right. Bullying can take many more forms today than it could before, especially with access to the internet and the common use of cell phones by students today. Cyber-bullying makes the process even more personal because people don’t get a chance to have a place of safety. This means some people feel bullied 24/7! It’s no wonder why LGBT youth are struggling as a demographic today.
Why is Recognizing Bullying So Important?
1. More than one-third of LGBT youth have attempted suicide at least once.
2. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide because of bullying than any other demographic.
3. Kids who are bullied by their families are 8 times more likely to make a suicide attempt.
4. 33% of teachers admit that they know there are LGBT youth in their classrooms, yet an equal amount of teachers don’t respond to complaints of bullying by LGBT kids.
5. Only 3% of youth admitted that bullying LGBT youth was something that was funny to do, while 78% of students disapproved of it.
6. LGBT youth are twice as likely to suffer from the symptoms of clinical depression over their heterosexual counterparts.
7. 93% of teens hear derogatory words about their sexual orientation at some point during the day on a regular basis.
Takeaway: Bullying may take many forms, but the unfortunate fact of homophobic bullying is that it is often specifically targeted so that it can be the most hurtful. Teens are already questioning their identity in a number of ways, so LGBT youth are already facing an uphill battle as it is within themselves. Negative words, harassment, and even violence causes even more internal conflicts. On some level, it demands conformity from the LGBT youth, yet they do not feel normal when they try to conform. This creates an internal conflict that is then exacerbated every time bullying occurs. Why is knowing this important? Because hate is becoming more common in bullying, taking the place of social status. When hate is in the equation, anything can happen.
Why Do We Need to Act Now to Stop This?
1. In the past year, 12% of students in the middle school and high school age brackets report having hate-related words spoken to them regarding their identity.
2. 36% of students report seeing hate-related graffiti at some location at school within the last 6 months.
3. 33% of students are frequently bullied on a daily basis because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
4. LGBT youth are 4 times more likely to be threatened with or be injured by a weapon that another student has brought to school as a bullying tactic.
5. 80% of LGBT youth or those that are questioning their sexual identity report that they have no supportive adult at school.
6. LGBT youth are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, plan a suicide, or attempt it than any other demographic because of bulling.
7. Although LGBT youth make up an estimated 9% of the student population, they account for up to 30% of the total youth suicides that occur.
Takeaway: It is no wonder why many are calling bullying a national health crisis. In order for it to stop, someone must choose to intervene when a bullying incident occurs. If an intervention occurs, either by a student or a teacher, most bullying incidents stop within seconds. If no intervention takes place, not only can bullying continue, but it can also encourage others to join in with the process. Bullying also brings about more bullying: 17% of youth who are victims of a bully will then choose to bully others in return.
What Can Adults Do Today?
1. No matter what a child believes, no child deserves to be bullied. Tolerating harassment is an endorsement of it to that child who is being bullied.
2. Watch for the signs of bullying so that LGBT children who are in distress because of homophobic views can be identified and supported.
3. Always take a comment about bullying seriously.
4. Look to bridge relationships between students and student counselors who can provide confidential help to LGBT youth in a safe setting.
5. Always encourage youth to seek out help when they feel like they are being bullied, no matter what their sexual orientation happens to be.
Takeaway: The simple fact is that we all have the power to stop bullying before it starts, but it takes an open mind and a willingness to change in order to make that happen. If we can each embrace our differences and use those differences to make us all stronger, then the bullies will have no place to stand. They will be faced with a choice: join in making a difference or stand to the side, out in the cold, while they get left behind.