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Only 37% of LGBT Teens Say They're Happy Only 37% of LGBT Teens Say They're Happy

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The Next America Culture 2012 / Culture

Only 37% of LGBT Teens Say They're Happy

June 8, 2012

For America’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth, adolescence is a trying time and, for some, an unhappy experience, according to a recent report by the Human Rights Campaign, an organization that advocates for equality for LGBT Americans.

Many of America’s LGBT teens face harassment, social ostracism, and discrimination, according to the report, which surveyed 10,000 LGBT youth ages 13-17.

Overall, LGBT teens were less likely to be happy than their straight counterparts, according to the report. Sixty-seven percent of straight teens said they were happy; only 37 percent of their LGBT counterparts said the same. They were more likely than their straight counterparts to experiment with drugs and alcohol and have feelings of isolation from family and their communities.

When LGBT teens were asked about the most important issues they face, 26 percent mentioned families that didn’t accept their orientation or identity, 21 percent reported bullying, and 18 percent noted fear of being out and open with others.

Young people who were not LGBT listed as their top concerns classes and grades, getting into college, and finances.

Despite their struggles, LBGT youth were optimistic for the future: 77 percent said that they believe things will get better. Eighty-three percent said that they believe they will be happy eventually.

Among the findings:

  • 56 percent of LGBT youth say their immediate family knows about their sexual identity; a quarter are out to their extended family.
  • LGBT youth are more than two times as likely as non-LGBT youth to say they have been verbally harassed and called names at school. Among LGBT youth, 51 percent have been verbally harassed at school, compared to 25 percent among non-LGBT students.
  • 42 percent of LGBT young people surveyed say the community where they live is not accepting of LGBT people. 
  • 83 percent of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, but only 49 percent believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town.
  • 57 percent of LGBT youth say that churches or places of worship in their community are not accepting of LGBT people; 35 percent say their own church or place of worship is not accepting.
  • 45 percent of LGBT youth reported that their state government is not accepting of LGBT people; 34 percent say their local government is not accepting. Many youth were not sure.
  • 21 percent of LGBT youth say that there is a place in their community that helps LGBT people; another 21 percent say that there is a nonofficial place in their community where LGBT youth can go and be accepted.
  • 49 percent of LGBT youth say that they have an adult in their family they could turn to for help if they felt worried or sad. Seventy-nine percent of non-LGBT teens say that they have an adult in their family they could turn to for help.
  • 60 percent said that their family is accepting of LGBT people, while a third said their family is not.
  • Among LGBT youth, 17 percent report that they have been physically attacked at school.
  • 92 percent of LGBT youth say that they hear negative messages about being LGBT; 78 percent of them, at the same time, say that they hear positive messages.
  • LGBT teens were more than twice as likely as their straight counterparts to say that they’ve used alcohol and drugs; 52 percent of LGBT youth said they’ve experimented, compared to 22 percent of straight teens. 
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