In a newly published study in the journal Pediatrics researchers from Columbia University analyzed a survey about the attitudes and experiences of 31,852 Oregon 11th-graders.
Since the survey actually asked students to identify their sexual orientation (a data point other research bodies refuse to take in) the data set allows for some statistical measurements and interpretations of the long-held findings related to LGBTQ youth and suicide.
The initial finding is simply confirming and consistent with decades of research on LGBT youth and suicide:
22% of LGBTQ youth express suicidal ideation
4% of their hetero peers do the same
25.5% of non-heterosexual students had tried to commit suicide at least once in negative environments.
20.4% of these same youth did so in positive environments.
And so you ask, what were the criteria for a positive environment?
The researchers scored 34 of Oregon’s 36 counties on how supportive of gays and lesbians the environment was based on
1.) the proportion of same-sex couples in the community;
2.) the proportion of registered Democrats in the community;
3.) whether schools had gay-straight alliances;
4.) whether schools had anti-bullying and antidiscrimination policies specifically protecting lesbian, gay and bisexual students.
Think on that a moment.
Now this study got me to thinking, it really wasn’t that long ago another study appeared in the Journal of Counseling Psychology, noting that
Same-sex couples with adopted children living in states with anti-gay adoption laws and attitudes had more mental health issues in their first year of parenthood than couples with adopted children living in more accepting states, a new study has found.
And just a few months earlier a Harvard study on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) found that among the general population PTST is 4% for men and 10% for women. Yes, women with PTSD more than double men in living with PTSD.
But to compound that disparity the study found that among the LGBT population this experience is doubled again. This means 9% of gay men are living with PTSD and 20% of lesbian women are living with PTSD. You can read the short summary in relation to hate crimes and childhood abuse and draw your own conclusions about the violence our culture directs at women and at sexual minority people.
Domination, oppression, and hate permeate communities and are toxic.
It appears the Columbia study offers some antidotes. Out gay families and members of the adult community, GSA’s, anti-bullying policies, and registered Democrats 🙂
Well there are three things there we in education could assist with….
I wonder is anybody listening?
Catherine at Thinking Queerly has some thoughts on who should be listening…
I like her optimism – I think I’ll try to share it.