HRC Blog

Tennessee LGBT Teens at Risk

Post submitted by HRC Field Assistant Nick Martin and HRC Family Project Director Ellen Kahn.

Last year, HRC released the biggest survey of LGBT youth in America. The report shows a huge disparity between straight and LGBT-identified teenagers. The results of the over 10,000 13-17 year olds surveyed nationally show a grim picture of the lives of LGBT youths. When the results are broken down by region and state, the situation grows bleaker in the South and Tennessee in particular.

Tennessee LGBT Harassment and Bullying

  • More than half of TN youth (58%) report being excluded because they were different and 35% report it happening frequently or often.
  • Six in ten Tennessee LGBT youth respondents report being the target of gay slurs and the same percentage report being verbally harassed, either frequently, often or sometimes.
  • Almost one quarter (24%) report being the target of cyber-bullying frequently or often.
  • Approximately two in ten TN youth report being physically assaulted punched, kicked or shoved at school. 
  • When asked if these acts of harassment and bullying had happened to them because of their sexual orientation or gender identity 82% responded “Yes”.

Tennessee Acceptance of LGBT Youth

  • Only 3% of the survey respondents reported their community as “very accepting” of LGBTQ people. 32% of Tennessee youth respondents reported their communities as “very unaccepting.”
  • 46% of the Tennessee sample reported “strongly agreed” that they would need to move to another city, town or another part of the country to really feel accepted.

Resources for Tennessee LGBT Youth

  • Less than half (42%) of the Tennessee LGBT youth in the survey report having an adult family member they could turn to if they were sad. 52% reported having an adult member of the community they could turn to if they were sad.

Tennessee LGBT Demographics

  • Of the 158 Tennessee youth respondents to this survey, 39% identified as bi-sexual, 28% as gay, and 21% as lesbian, 11% as “other sexual orientation”, and 1% as Queer.
  • 70% reported attending high school and 16% middle school at the time of the survey.
  • 94% reported living with their immediate family and 3% with their extended family, and  most came from  suburban areas (41%), but representing rural (37%), and urban (22%) settings as well.

HRC has been heavily involved with youth and campus work. This report is only the first in a series of efforts to analyze the landscape for LGBT youth in America. The full report can be found at hrc.org/youth.

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