HRC Blog

Elevating LGBT Youth

Post submitted by Dan Rafter, Former HRC Associate Director of Communications

This past June, as Chad Griffin took the helm at HRC, we released a groundbreaking survey the offered an insightful look at some of the biggest obstacles LGBT youth across the country face.  We followed that initial report up with a National Coming Out Day report in October, looking at who LGBT youth come out to, in what settings, the obstacles they experience, and the ways in which coming out may be related to their personal well–being, sense of safety, and their connections to family, school and community.

The resounding message from both of these reports was a reminder that, despite all of the progress we make on issues like marriage equality, electing openly LGBT leaders, improving workplace safety, and tackling bullying; we must never forget the imperative we have to improve conditions for every single LGBT young person in this country – whether they live in Arkansas or New York, Florida or Missouri.

Some of the key findings we learned from our youth report this year included:

  • Over 90 percent of LGBT youth say they hear negative messaging about being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
  • While nearly 70 percent of straight youth describe themselves as happy, the number drops to 37 percent among LGBT young people.
  • LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to face relentless verbal abuse.
  • Our LGBT youth also are at increased risk for physical assault, and are four times more likely than their straight counterparts to be harassed on-line.
  • LGBT young people are twice as likely to experiment with drugs or alcohol, and face significantly higher risks of being homeless or living in foster care.

HRC President Chad Griffin spoke to the implications of the report earlier this year:

We have a responsibility to ensure they do get better. As I begin my tenure here at HRC, we will make every decision through the lens of these young people who are counting on us to ensure they are given every opportunity at a bright future. We simply don’t have a choice – inaction has consequences.

As we head into 2013 with the momentum of our 2012 victories pushing our work forward, we’ll continue to fight to improve conditions for every single LGBT person in the country – particularly youth who, all too often, feel isolated within their own communities.

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