Most LGBTQ Teens Say They Experience Stress, Depression, And Feelings Of Worthlessness, Survey Finds
While being a teenager can be a stressful time for everyone, new data shows that LGBTQ teens are facing a particularly difficult struggle — and that it's having a detrimental effect on their well-being. The 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey came from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and the University of Connecticut and looked at over 12,000 teen respondents from all over the country. It was the largest of this kind of survey to take place and revealed some difficult truths about life as an LGBTQ teen in this country. Seventy-seven percent of LGBTQ teenagers had felt depressed over the past week alone — and 70 percent had felt feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness within the last week.
"I was most surprised that despite all of the social change around LGBTQ rights and social acceptance, we are still seeing large numbers of youth struggle across all domains — school, family, and community," Ryan Watson, assistant professor of human development and family studies at the University of Connecticut and the lead investigator of the study, tells Bustle. "This shows we still have a long way to go to fully embrace and support our LGBTQ teens."
Although the numbers were worrying, Watson still emphasizes that some people out there are making great strides for good. But there are many ways the current situation could be improved. "There are countless advocates, groups, and organizations that have dedicated their entire missions to helping LGBTQ teens, but unfortunately many of those in leadership positions have set unaccepting tones toward LGBTQ people," Watson says. "I think there are different things that can be done by various stakeholders. For example, policy makers can enact LGBTQ non-discrimination laws at the national, state and local level. Mental health counselors can be open to discussing sexual orientation and gender identity. And, parents should certainly advocate for LGBTQ-inclusive curriculums, programming and clubs."
1. Almost Everyone Surveyed Had Trouble Sleeping At Night
A huge 95 percent of those surveyed said they had trouble sleeping at night. Being a teenager often involves a lot of sleepless nights, but 95 percent is clearly too high.
2. LGBTQ Youth Of Color Are Hit Particularly Hard
For some LGBTQ teens, the situation is even more dire. Only 11 percent of youths of color surveyed said that they felt that their ethnicity was well-regarded in the U.S. — which is devastating. That means that the majority of minorities surveyed were struggling with their orientation and their ethnicity. That's a huge burden and a huge amount of rejection for someone that age to feel.
3. Transgender Youths Have Particular Challanges
One half of transgender and expansive gender teens said that they didn't use their school bathrooms because there wasn't an option that aligned with their gender.
4. Only Around A Quarter Always Feel Safe In The Classroom
This was pretty staggering — only 26 percent of those surveyed said that they always felt safe in the classroom. And, perhaps even worse, only five percent said all of their teachers were supportive of the LGBTQ community. That means that almost everyone surveyed felt that at least one person in a position of power at their school had a problem with their orientation. It's just too much.
5. 2/3 Have Heard Negative Comments From Family Members
In another depressing finding, 67 percent of those surveyed have heard a family member make disparaging marks about LGBTQ people. It's no wonder that so many teenagers are struggling, especially if their family members are the ones making these sorts of remarks.
Being a teenager is stressful to begin with, but for LGBTQ teens the stress is leading to depression, feelings of worthlessness, and more. It's time to do more to support them.