Bullying and harassment can have negative effects on the development and mental health of GLBTQ students, such as extreme anxiety and depression, relationship problems, low self-esteem, substance abuse, and thoughts of suicide. These students are also at much greater risk of physical assault than other children and youth.
It is well established that LGBT youth experience great disparities with respect to mental health. One early 1990s study, highly regarded for its
methodology and large sample size, showed that 41% of males and 28% of females (under the LGBT umbrella) were either very troubled or extremely troubled by depression (as compared with a national average of 8% among all individuals over 12 years of age). These numbers have been confirmed more recently by the CDC, indicating little progress over 20 years. Suicide, suicidal ideation, and substance use also occur among LGBT youth at rates much higher than those among their heterosexual counterparts.
A 2013 study incorporating pooled data from 14 jurisdictions revealed stark differences between sexual minority students and sexual majority students in these areas. For example, 32.2% of sexual minority students (versus 11.7% of nonminority students) reported suicidal ideation, and 22.8% (versus 6.6% of nonminority students) reported actual suicide attempt.23,91In another study, GLBTQ students are two to three times as likely to commit suicide as heterosexual students and may account for a startling 30 percent of all completed youth suicides. These students are also more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts than other students.30,46
Students who had experienced anti-gay harassment are four times more likely than non-harassed youth to be threatened with or injured by a weapon. Twenty-two percent of GLBTQ students had skipped school in the last month for safety concerns and are three times more likely to drop out of school. GLBTQ students are also at risk for not getting the support they need when they are being bullied due to their perceptions that adults at school may have intolerant attitudes or may not provide confidential help in which to deal with their situation.Four out of five GLBTQ students say they know of no supportive adult atschool.