Yesterday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary and Trends Report: 2007-2017 (YRBS). The YRBS report shows that LGB youth are disproportionately at risk for interpersonal violence, drug and alcohol use and poor mental health outcomes. This data reinforces the urgent need for federal and state initiatives and policies, such as codifying nondiscrimination protections into law, to address these critical needs of youth.

This is the second time that the survey asked young people about their sexual orientation, allowing researchers to assess how being LGB affects teens’ risk of problems including depression, drug use and violence.

The results are sobering, especially when compared to their heterosexual counterparts:

  • Twenty-seven percent of LGB youth reported being electronically bullied within the last year, double the rate reported by heterosexual students.
  • Sixty-three percent of LGB youth reported feeling “sad or hopeless” in the last year, compared with 27 percent of heterosexual respondents.
  • Twenty-two percent of LGB youth reported experiencing sexual violence, more than double the rate reported by heterosexual youth.

While the YRBS report does not provide a complete picture of LGBTQ youth, the CDC has worked for several years to develop questions regarding gender identity to add to future surveys.  In 2017, 21 state and local partners piloted a question relating to transgender and gender expansive identities, and the information is expected to be released this summer.

Recently, the HRC Foundation and the University of Connecticut released the largest-of-its-kind survey ever of more than 12,000 LGBTQ teenagers across the nation, showing findings consistent with the CDC’s data and detailing the persistent challenges so many of LGBTQ youth face going about their daily lives at home, at school and in their communities.  HRC’s data also shows these outcomes are worse for transgender and non-binary youth.

The U.S. lacks reliable data about LGBTQ people, especially about the experiences of LGBTQ youth. This data is crucial to improving outcomes for youth -- especially during the Trump-Pence administration, which has consistently sought to erase LGBTQ people from federal data collection efforts.

In light of this, and in the face of consistent attacks on LGBTQ youth, HRC is committed to ensuring this data is in the hands of teachers, counselors, coaches, doctors and other youth-serving professionals across the country.

These findings will inform a variety of HRC Foundation programs for youth and youth-serving professionals, including the Welcoming Schools program, the All Children-All Families program and the Time to THRIVE conference.

To learn more about how HRC supports LGBTQ young people at school, at home and in their communities, click here.


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