LGBTQ youth are bullied for their weight almost as much as their orientation & gender identity

LGBTQ youth are likely to be bullied and teased about their weight — and it doesn’t matter if they are under- or overweight. 

Author: Gwendolyn Smith

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LGBTQ youth are bullied for their weight almost as much as their orientation & gender identity

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3 in 10 California youth have been mocked by family for being LGBTI

A sign at a protest celebrating trans youth in 2017

As studies and reports focused on LGBTI youth around the world continue, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and University of Connecticut released a new one on Thursday (10 January) specifically focusing on California youth.

The California LGBTQ Youth Report looks at various aspects of LGBTI youth life in the state, from school to home.

HRC partnered with nine civil rights and education organizations in preparation of this report.

They collected data from 1,700 California youth ranging in age from 13-17 who participated in HRC’s 2017 LGBTQ Teen Survey.

‘This groundbreaking data reveals that the cards remain stacked against LGBTQ youth in California — and especially so for LGBTQ youth of color and transgender and gender-expansive youth,’ said Ellen Kahn, HRC Foundation Director of the Children, Youth & Families Program.

The report’s findings

2 in 10 California LGBTI youth are out to all of their parents. 36%, however, find the idea of coming out to their parents ‘extremely stressful’.

One reason could be that parents and other family members say negative things about LGBTI people.

45% of these youth say family members make negative remarks about LGBTI people in general, while 29% say they’ve been taunted or mocked by family members for being LGBTI

At school, meanwhile, only 10% say all of their school staff is supportive of LGBTI students. In a GLSEN report about LGBTI students’ experiences at school state-by-state, more than half of California students reported having a supportive administration and more than 6 faculty members. The key difference could be the inclusion of the world ‘all’ in the HRC report.

They also experience harassment and discrimination at school.

28% say they’ve been physically threatened at least once due to their sexual orientation or gender identity, perceived or otherwise. Another half have been teased or bullied for the same reasons.

Intersectional LGBTI youth

As other studies have shown, trans and LGBTI youth of color face different struggles than their cis and white peers.

Only 40% of trans and non-binary California students say people use their true names at school. 21%, meanwhile, say people use the correct pronouns at school.

The simple act of using a person’s true name or pronouns can help their mental health, which is important for LGBTI youth.

Further, a majority of LGBTI youth of color (82%) say they’ve experienced racism and racial prejudice. Another 60% say they think about race every day and that the US regards their race negatively.

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Trans youth are twice as likely to be sexually assaulted or raped in the US

A young woman with 'love shouldn't hurt' painted on her back

A new report from the Human Rights Campaign and University of Connecticut revealed that transgender and gender-expansive youth in the United States are twice as likely as their LGBTQ cisgender peers to be sexually assaulted or raped for their perceived identity.

When HRC and UCONN conducted a survey of 12,000 LGBTQ youth last year, they received responses from 5,600 ‘gender-expansive’ youth. This term includes trans and non-binary teens.

The results from those respondents created the new Gender-Expansive Youth Report.

It reveals the realities for gender-expanisve youth in the US. Last year, the Williams Institute reported that approximately 150,000 people aged 13-17 identify as trans.

Facing struggles internally and externally

The report found 16% of all gender-expansive youth have been sexually assaulted or raped due to their actual or assumed identity. Among cisgender LGBQ youth, 8% reported this.

Further, nearly seven in 10 gender-expansive youth said they received unwanted sexual comments, jokes, and gestures in the last year.

They also deal with higher rates of other discrimination and assault than their cis peers.

A large majority of these youth (84%) have received verbal threats, and another 42% have received physical threats (compared to 25% cis LGBQ youth).

Mentally, gender-expansive youth are also struggling.

Nearly all (97%) reported having trouble sleeping at night, and another 84% felt ‘hopeless or worthless’ in the last week.

Lack of supportive spaces

These statistics are compounded by the lack of supportive and safe spaces.

Only 36% of gender-expanisve youth say their families show support by getting involved, while 64% say their families make them feel bad for their identities (compared to 34% of cis LGBQ youth).

More than half of gender-expansive youth reported being mocked by their families (57%), as well as hearing their family make negative comments about the community (72%)

It doesn’t fare better at school, where only 16% of youth express hearing positive LGBTQ messages.

Less than half of these students are called by their true name or correct pronouns at school.

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