LGBTQ Teens Face An Extra Set of Stressors That Most Straight Teens Do Not

All teens, regardless of their gender/sex identity, worry about the same

things: grades, making friends, dating, getting into college. But LGBTQ

teens face an extra set of stressors that most straight teens do not.

  • Being outed – Having someone identify your sex/gender identity before you’re ready.

    I first came out to my dad, sister, and two really close friends. One of those friends decided to tell pretty much everyone on our baseball team because, in his words, he wanted to warn them. I was really mad at him. My teammates started acting kind of weird around me, they stopped inviting me places, and things like that. It was my senior year of high school so I decided to just stick with it. I stoppedbeing friends with the guy who outed me after that.

It is NEVER okay to out someone without his/her permission.

  • Rejection by family and friends

In “Growing Up LGBT in America”—a 2012 survey among more than ten thousand LGBT youth ages thirteen to seventeen—the teens were asked to describe the most important problem facing their lives.“Non-accepting families” ranked number one, with 26 percent of the respondents. When they were asked to describe one thing in their lives they would like to change, 15 percent said “my parent/family situation.” For those teens—particularly those who are not out to their family—they often fear how their family will react, knowing they are homo-/bi-/transphobic or swayed by their religion that condemns homosexuality. Still, given the fear of rejection and the disappointment they may well cause their family, more than half of the teens surveyed said they are out to their immediate family, about half said they have an adult in the family they could turn to for help, but less than a third chose their family among a list of places where they most often hear positive messages about being LGBT.

When families reject their LGBT children (even if unintended), they may try to change their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, assume it’s just a “phase,” or prevent them from having LGBT riends. The results? Suicide attempts. High levels of depression. Using illegal drugs. High risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases.

Physical Safety at School and Beyond —LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked, or shoved at school. More than one third say they don’t come out at school because they will be treated differently or judged. “Growing Up LGBT in America” supported the fact that growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender can be a rough ride with all kinds of challenges. When asked what the most difficult problem they were facing in their lives “these days,” 21 percent said “trouble at school/ bullying.” (Interestingly, 22 percent of non-LGBT youth listed “trouble with classes/exams/grades.) The report found that 51 percent of LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to say they have been physically assaulted, kicked, or shoved at school, verbally harassed and called names at school. That number compares to 25 percent of non-LGBT students.

Despite these statistics, a healthy 75 percent of LGBT teens say that most of their peers don’t have a problem with their gender identity.

Harassment & Abuse

August’s Story—Nineteen-year-old August, who identifies as a non-binary transgender, was sexually abused at school from the time she was ten until age twelve. She doesn’t remember much from that time: “Probably a survival mechanism. I felt like a robot. I figured my abuser would either leave or that I’d go to another school.”  August didn’t know the word rape, didn’t even hear the word until a year after the abuse began. To this day, she is deeply upset that the school withheld information because the teachers and administrators didn’t want to upset the students or add to their own discomfort.

A Happy Ending:
August is now involved in a youth program for LGBTQ teens.  It’s the first time she’s been around “queers” her age and heard them talking about abuse, self abuse, gender.  It has, she says, affected her mental health in a very positive way.  “I am not alone.”
  • Homelessness—It’s easy to jump to the conclusion that because somewhere between 20 and 40 percent of homeless youth are LGBT, they must be delinquents who cause tremendous discord at home or who are running from the law or unable to abide by rules set by their parents. Not true. The majority of homeless LGBT youth are what David Bond, vice president of Programs, The Trevor Project, labeled “refugees or asylum seekers” who are escaping really bad conditions at home or have been rejected, often kicked out. According to one study, 26 percent of gay teens were kicked out of their homes when they came out to their parents. Their only way to “survive” has been to choose the worst of two evils: fend for themselves or stay in a toxic, often dangerous situation.
  • their homes when they came

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5 Possible Reasons Why More Middle Schoolers Are Taking Their Own Lives

5 Possible Reasons Why Middle Schoolers Are Taking Their Own Lives

Experts aren’t sure why the biggest surge in suicides is among kids in middle school, but they have some possible explanations.

1.     Academic Pressure – Kids today are under tremendous academic pressure that, for some, begins in the womb.  Parents are playing music, reading to their unborn children—doing everything they can to give their kids a head start.  In many day care centers, the waiting lists are long, and, in some areas,  the cost is exorbitant.  In New York state, for example, the percent of median household income for one child is 26.04%  The cost of child care for one infant is $14,144.  Once kids begin kindergarten, there is a rush to get children into “good” schools—often private or magnate schools.  Even if parents have the funds, there are limited places in private schools, and kids must make the “grade” with good test scores, impressive interviews.  The same goes for magnate schools.  And, so, the academic pressure begins in earnest.  Sure, when most of us were younger, there was pressure to get good grades and to go to a “good” college.  Today, the pressure is magnified with more students fighting over “spots” in what they (or their parents) consider the best universities.

2.    Onset of early puberty at a time technology and social media have mushroomed.   This is particularly true for middle school girls who, on average, start to menstruate at age 12.  Their bodies mature, but their thinking and social skills do not.  These middle school girls are often mistaken for young women and are treated accordingly.  They garner unwanted attention from men and are expected to respond as older girls might.  Check out the following New York Times article that takes an in-depth look at early puberty and its potential causes and effects.

3.    Online bullying Bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related. Translation: young people who’ve been bullied are more likely to report high levels of suicidal thoughts or suicide attempts than their peers who have not been bullied. However, what the experts don’t know is whether bullying directly causes suicide or suicide behavior. Most young people who are involved in bullying do not consider or attempt suicide. But it is correct to say that bullying, along with other risk factors, increases the chance of suicide.  The “piling on” that kids can do on Facebook and other sites usually begins in school and continues at home.  There is no longer a “safe” place.

4.    Overexposure to sex, violence and anything unhealthy for young kids – Even if parents try to monitor what their kids watch on TV, it’s almost impossible to stop them from finding all kinds of stuff online, on their cell phones, iPads—you name it.  When you compare the wholesome information that kids used to consume with what they see and hear about today, it’s no wonder that some grow up way too fast and possibly indulge in dangerous behavior like early sexual experimentation, drugs/alcohol, cigarettes.  The list goes on . . . What can parents and teachers do?  Educate.  Talk to their children (students).  Keep the lines of communication open.  Let middle school kids know that you or someone they know is a “trusted” adult to whom they can turn with questions and problems.

5.    The scary world out “there  – With a world of political upheaval, deportation, terrorism, war, economic instability, middle schoolers feel unsafe.  They feel helpless, unable to change the chaos that surrounds them.  I volunteered at a middle school and was there the day after President Trump was elected.  Minority kids whose parents may have immigrated from another country and feared their parents or a relative, a friend could be deported were hysterical.  The school brought in counselors to augment their staff and to help quell the students’ concerns.  It may be a good bet to turn off the TV with its 24/7 parade of bad news.  (I know a lot of adults who have done just that.)  Undue stress on top of the ups and downs of early adolescence can be a recipe for disaster.