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Factsheet: Bullying and Gay Youth

Bullying in Schools: Harassment Puts Gay Youth at Risk


While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teenager, gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender (GBLT) teens additionally have to deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis. They hear anti-gay slurs such as “homo”, “faggot” and “sissy” about 26 times a day or once every 14 minutes.[1] Even more troubling, a study found that thirty-one percent of gay youth had been threatened or injured at school in the last year alone![2]

Their mental health and education, not to mention their physical well-being, are at-risk.

How is their mental health being affected?

How is their education being affected?

What can we do to help?

Schools should offer a safe and respectful learning environment for everyone. When bullying is allowed to take place, it affects everyone. For every GLBT youth who reported being targeted for anti-gay harassment, four heterosexual youth reported harassment or violence for being perceived as gay or lesbian.[10] Also, we know that bullying was a contributing factor in the Columbine shootings and other school violence. Students, teachers, and school administrators who look the other way are contributing to the problem. In contrast, kids who said that they had a supportive faculty or openly gay staff member were more likely to feel as if they belong in their school.[11]

Help end bullying at your school with the following actions:

Other Resources top of page

National Association of School Psychologists
4340 East West Highway, Suite 402
Bethesda, MD 20814
Phone Number: (301) 657-0270
Fax Number: (301) 657-0275
TTY Number: (301) 657-4155
Website URL: www.nasponline.org

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20016-3007
Phone Number: (202) 966-7300
Fax: (202) 966-2891
Email Address: clinical@aacap.org
Website URL: www.aacap.org

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Blvd.
Elk Grove Village, IL 60007
Phone Number: (847) 434-4000
Fax Number: (847) 434-8000
Website URL: www.aap.org

American Psychological Association
750 First Street, N.E.
Washington, DC 20002-4242
Telephone Number: (202) 336-5500
Toll-Free Number: (800) 374-2721
TDD/TTY Number: (202) 336-6123
Website URL: www.apa.org, http://helping.apa.org/

American School Counselor Association
1101 King St., Suite 625
Alexandria, VA 22314
Phone Number: (703) 683-ASCA
Toll-Free Number: (800) 306-4722
Fax Number: (703) 683-1619
Website URL: www.schoolcounselor.org/

Association of Gay and Lesbian Psychiatrists
4514 Chester Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19143-3707
Phone Number: (215) 222-2800
Website URL: www.aglp.org

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
90 Broad Street, 2nd Floor
New York, New York 10004
Phone Number: (212) 727-0135
Fax Number: (212) 727-0254
Email Address: glsen@glsen.org
Website URL: www.glsen.org

Human Rights Campaign
1640 Rhode Island Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20036-3278
Phone Number: (202) 628-4160
Toll-Free Number: (800) 777-4723
TTY: (202) 216-1572
Fax Number: (202) 347-5323
Email Address: hrc@hrc.org
Website URL: www.hrc.org

Human Rights Watch
350 Fifth Avenue, 34th floor
New York, NY 10118-3299 USA
Phone Number: (212) 290-4700
Fax Number: (212) 736-1300
Email Address: hrwnyc@hrw.org
Website URL: www.hrw.org

National Education Association
1201 16th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20036-3290
Phone Number: (202) 833-4000
Fax Number: (202) 822-7974
Website URL: www.nea.org

Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays
1726 M Street, NW, Suite 400
Washington, D.C. 20036
Phone Number: (202) 467-8180
Fax Number: (202) 467-8194
Email Address: info@pflag.org
Website URL: www.pflag.org

References top of page

[1] Bart, M. Creating a safer school for gay students. Counseling Today, September 1998
[2] Chase, Anthony. "Violent Reaction; What do Teen Killers have in Common?" In These Times. 9 July 2001
[3] Norton, Terry L., and Jonathan W. Vare. "Understanding Gay and Lesbian Youth: Sticks, Stones, and Silence." 17 July 1998: 3
Lexis Nexis. 20 June 2002
[4] Report from the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide (Paul Gibson, US Department of Health and Human Services), 1989
[5] Chase, Anthony. "Violent Reaction; What do Teen Killers have in Common?" In TheseTimes. 9 July 2001: 3.
[6] Garofalo, R. Wolf, R.C., Kessel, S., Palfrey., J (1998) Pediatrics, 101 (5), 895-902
[7] Chase, Anthony. "Violent Reaction; What do Teen Killers have in Common?" In These Times. 9 July 2001
[8] Bart, M. Creating a safer school for gay students. Counseling Today, September 1998
[9] Sessions Stepp, Laura. "A Lesson in Cruelty: Anti-Gay Slurs Common at School; Some Say Insults Increase as Gays' Visibility Rises." The Washington Post 19 June 2001
[10] Reis, B. (1996). Safe Schools Anti-Violence Documentation Project, Third Annual Report. Seattle: Safe Schools Coalition
[11] The 2001 National School Climate Survey, GLSEN, p.35
[12] Ibid.

For More Information:

For help finding treatment, support groups, medication information, help paying for your medications, your local Mental Health America affiliate, and other mental health-related services in your community, please click here to access our Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. If you or someone you know is in crisis now, seek help immediately. Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) to reach a 24 hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance.

Page last updated: 11/08/2006

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