American Psychological Association, APA
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Healthy Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Students Project jump to LGB Student Health Risks
All students, including lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth, deserve the right to a school environment that is safe and conducive for learning to occur. However, there is evidence that significant challenges remain for creating positive school climates for LGB youth. For example:
97% of high school students report regularly hearing homophobic remarks. (Making Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth: Report of the Massachusetts Governor's Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993.)
One study found 18.4% of the gay, lesbian, and bisexual students had been in a physical fight resulting in treatment by a doctor or nurse compared to 4% of their peers, and 22.2% skipped school in the past month because they felt unsafe on route to or at school, compared to 4.2% of their peers. (Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, Massachusetts Department of Education, 1997)
In a national survey, youth described being called lesbian or gay as the most deeply upsetting form of sexual harassment they experienced. (American Association of University Women, 1993)
The Healthy LGB Students Project is planning on developing materials for school leaders on how they can improve the climate of the nation's schools for LGB students. In addition, there are several policies and resources regarding LGB youth and school climate that are available on-line:
American Federation of Teachers. (1990). Educational Equity for Sexual Minorities. Adopted by the Delegates of the Convention. http://www.aft.org//human/resource/download/keeping.pdf
American Federation of Teachers. (1994). Rights of Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual People. Adopted by the Delegates of the Convention. http://www.aft.org//human/resource/download/keeping.pdf
American Federation of Teachers. (1996). Safety in All Schools. Adopted by the Delegates of the Convention. http://www.aft.org//human/resource/download/keeping.pdf
American School Counselor Association. (1995). The Professional School Counselor and the Sexual Orientation of Youth. Adopted by the Delegate Assembly. http://www.schoolcounselor.org/content.cfm?L1=1000&L2=31
American School Health Association. (1994). Gay and Lesbian Youth in School. Adopted by the Board of Directors http://www.ashaweb.org/resolutions1.html#familylife
National Association of School Nurses. (1994). Sexual Orientation Position Statement. Adopted by the Board of Directors. http://www.nasn.org/positions/orientation.htm
National Association of School Psychologists. (1999). Position Statement on Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Youth. Adapted by the NASP Delegate Assembly. http://www.nasponline.org/pdf/pospaper_glb.pdf
National Education Association. (2000). Racism, Sexism, and Sexual Orientation Discrimination. Resolution B-9 as Adopted by the Representative Assembly. http://www.nea.org/resolutions/00/00b-9.html
National School Boards Association. (2000). Non-Discrimination Belief and Policy of the National School Boards Association. Adopted by the Delegate Assembly. http://www.nsba.org/about/beliefs.htm#Article II
School Social Work Association of America (2001) Resolutions Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Questioning Youth. Approved by the Board of Directors. http://www.sswaa.org/about/publications/resolutions/glb.html
Just the Facts About Sexual Orientation and Youth: A Primer for Principals, Educators and School Personnel. A booklet for school personnel developed and endorsed by numerous mental health and teachers' professional organizations.
Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's Back-to-School Kit. This kit gives resources on promoting safer schools for lesbian and gay students. The Kit highlights trends, action steps, and resources for securing fair treatment for lesbian and gay youth. http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/documents/record?record=690
GLSEN's Guide to Discrimination and Harassment Policies in Schools. This webpage gives basic information on considering the how-to's of helping to protect gay and lesbian youth from harassment in schools based on effective policy. http://www.glsen.org/templates/resources/
PFLAG's From Our House to the School House: A Recipe for Safe Schools. This resource helps you conduct an assessment on school safety for LGB youth in your local school or district.
The American Civil Liberties Union has a Lesbian and Gay Rights Project that seeks to address efforts to help schools address homophobia before it occurs and escalates. Information is available on tips for schools and community, statistics on gay youth, and how to contact the ACLU for help and information. http://www.aclu.org/issues/gay/safe_schools.html
LGB Student Health Risks top of page
The transition from childhood to adulthood can cause much anxiety and uncertainty for young people. All teens are faced with risk factors (certain aspects of life that can be associated with an increased likelihood of behaviors that threaten health and well-being) as well as potentially possessing protective factors (aspects of life that are associated with a reduced risk of engaging in problem behaviors). For example, some common risk factors for adolescents include substance abuse, low self-esteem, and physical or emotional abuse (Miller, 2001). Likewise, common protective factors include high-self esteem and family involvement (Blum, Beuhring & Rinehart, 2000).
Teen substance abuse, weapon-related violence, suicide attempts and unprotected sexual behavior are certainly among the predominant public health concerns in our nation. However, these same concerns for lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youth are particularly alarming. While most LGB youth grow up to lead satisfying, productive lives, adolescents who report same-sex attraction or behavior appear to be at increased risk for a large number of health and mental health outcomes when compared to their heterosexual peers. For example:
Recent data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that young men who have sex with men accounted for 34% of all new AIDS cases among 13 to 24-year-olds. Black and Latino sexually active young men are at particular risk for HIV infection (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2000).
A study appearing in the Journal of the American Medial Association of 15 to 22 year old young men who reported having sex with other men in 7 metropolitan areas indicated an overall HIV infection rate of 7.2%. The highest HIV prevalence was among African-American (14.1%) and multiracial (12.6%) youth (Valleroy et al., 2000). Recent data released at the 2001 National Retrovirus Conference appeared to confirm high rates of HIV infection in particular for young, Black gay men in urban areas. Bisexual male youth appear to have a consistent pattern of higher AIDS risk behavior when compared to young men reporting same-sex only behavior, including multiple partners, unprotected intercourse, STD diagnosis, and injected drug use. (Goodenow et al., 2002).
Gay and bisexual male youth are also at risk for a variety of sexually transmitted diseases, as are bisexual females and lesbian youth who have sex with male partners (Ryan & Futterman, 1998).
Research indicates that adolescent females that identify as lesbian, bisexual or questioning are at an increased risk of unintended pregnancy (Saewyc, Bearinger, Blum & Resnick, 1999).
Data released from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health showed that youth who report same-sex attraction or behaviors also reported higher levels of emotional distress, greater use of alcohol and marijuana, and earlier sexual debut (Resnick et al., 1997). Additional data released from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health indicated that girls and boys reporting same-sex attraction were at higher risk for being in a physically dangerous fight and being jumped or attacked. (Russell et al., 2001).
Blum, R.W., Beuhring, T., & Rinehart, P.M. (2000). Protecting teens: Beyond race, income and family structure. Center for Adolescent Health, University of Minnesota, 200 Oak Street SE, Suite 260, Minneapolis, MN.
Goodenow, C., Netherland, J., & Szalcha, L. (2002). AIDS-related risk among adolescent males who have sex with males, females, or both: Evidence from a statewide survey. American Journal of Public Health, 92(2), 203-210.
Reis, B. (1996). Safe Schools Anti-Violence Documentation Project, Third Annual Report. Seattle: Safe Schools Coalition.
Remafedi, G., French, S., Story, M., Resnick, M.D. & Blum, R. (1998). The relationship between suicide risk and sexual orientation: Results of a population-based study. American Journal of Public Health, 88(1), 57-60.
Resnick, M.D., Bearman, P.S., Blum, R.W., Bauman, K.E., Harris, K.M., Jones, J., Tabor, J., Behring, T., Sieving, R.E., Shew, M., Ireland, M., Bearinger, L.H., & Uldry, J.R. (1997). Protecting adolescents from harm; Findings from the National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health. Journal of the American Medical Association, 278 (10), 823-832.
Russell, S.T., Franz, B.T., & Driscoll, A.K. (2001). Same-sex romantic attraction and experience of violence in adolescence American Journal of Public Health, 91(6), 903-906.
Ryan, C. & Futterman, D. (1998). Lesbian and Gay Youth: Care and Counseling. New York: Columbia Press.
Saewyc, E.M., Bearinger, L.H., Blum, R.W. & Resnick, M.D. (1999) Sexual intercourse, abuse and pregnancy among adolescent women; Does sexual orientation make a difference? Family Planning Perspectives, 31(3), 127-131.
Valleroy, L.A., MacKellar, D.A., Karon, J.M., Rosen, D.H., McFarland, W., Shehan,D.A., Stoyanoff, S.R., LaLota, M., Celentano, D.D., Koblin, B.A., Thiede, H., Katz, M.H., Torian, L.V., & Janssen, R.S. (2000). HIV Prevalence and associated risks in young men who have sex with men. Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(2), 198-204.
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