Wednesday, November 23, 2016

LGBT youth face discrimination, serious health risks

Colorado lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth are more likely to be bullied, experience poor mental health outcomes, and use drugs and alcohol compared to their straight and cisgender (non-transgender) classmates, according to an analysis of the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado Survey.

However, survey analysis also shows LGBT youth with support at home or in school are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment administers the Healthy Kids Colorado Survey every two years to guide its efforts to improve the health of all Coloradans. Approximately 16,000 Colorado high school students responded to the 2015 survey.

According to survey data, transgender students are twice as likely to be bullied at school, four times as likely to feel unsafe at school, and twice as likely to feel sad or hopeless as their cisgender classmates. They are more than twice as likely to consider suicide and four times as likely to attempt it. The survey also shows greater use of drugs and alcohol among transgender youth.

Similarly, lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) students are twice as likely to be bullied at school and electronically, three times as likely to miss school because they feel unsafe, and more than twice as likely to feel sad or hopeless as their straight classmates. They also are more likely to consider or attempt suicide and use drugs or alcohol.

While the data paints an unhealthy picture of LGBT youth, it also shows many factors can support and improve their health and well-being. LGBT students who feel safe at school are significantly less likely to attempt suicide, smoke cigarettes or use marijuana. And those who have an adult to go to with a serious problem are half as likely to attempt suicide.

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