For most bullied gay kids, things do 'get better,' study finds

February 4, 2013 by Amy Norton, Healthday Reporter
For most bullied gay kids, things do 'Get better,' study finds
While gay British teens more likely to be bullied in school, situation improved by young adulthood.

(HealthDay)—Many gay and bisexual teenagers are bullied in school, but the problem does ease substantially as they get older, a new study out of England suggests.

Researchers found that of more than 4,100 teens aged 13 and 14 who they surveyed, gay and were more likely to say they'd been bullied—anything from name-calling to being physically hurt.

Fifty-seven percent of girls and 52 percent of boys said they'd been victims, versus about 40 percent of their peers.

The good news was that things got better with time, the researchers report online Feb. 4 and in the March print issue of . At ages 19 and 20, 6 percent of lesbian and and 9 percent of gay and said they'd been victimized in the past year.

The bad news was that men were still four times more likely to report bullying than heterosexual were.

"Basically this is saying that it does get better, but it's not good enough," said Brian Mustanski, an associate professor of medical social sciences at Northwestern University, in Chicago.

Mustanski, who was not involved in the study, has done research on the impact of bullying on gay and bisexual kids. "The work we've done shows that there is an association between bullying and and self-harming behavior in [gay and bisexual] youth," he said.

But it's not only researchers now, Mustanski added.

The media have put a spotlight on recent cases in which have taken their own lives after being taunted by their peers. And in 2010, syndicated columnist Dan Savage, who is gay, launched the "It Gets Better" project to get a message to gay and bisexual kids who are being bullied.

"The message was, it will get better with time," Mustanski said. "And that's an important message. But we really hadn't had any research to show that that's true."

Lead researcher Joseph Robinson agreed that these findings help validate what people have believed to be true.

"This suggests that chances are, things will get better," said Robinson, an assistant professor of educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "We've been giving kids a message of hope, and this is showing that's not a false hope."

But the continuing disparity between gay and heterosexual young men is concerning, Robinson said. "For straight males, bullying gets better a lot quicker—which is great news for them. But we'd like to see the same improvement for gay and bisexual males."

The picture may be worse for young men because society is generally less accepting of men being gay or bisexual, Robinson noted. "Men, in particular, just can't deviate from gender norms," he said. "That's what society expects."

The findings are based on a national sample of 4,135 school kids in England who were interviewed annually over seven years. Of these, 187 (almost 5 percent) identified themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Besides asking about bullying, the study also looked at kids' "emotional distress" levels—how often they felt depressed, anxious or unhappy.

In general, gay and bisexual young people had more distress, and bullying in school appeared to explain about half of the disparity. Both Robinson and Mustanski said that suggests that anti-bullying efforts could make a big difference in young people's mental health.

Right now, some schools have anti-bullying policies that specifically ban bullying based on sexual orientation. Some have gay-straight student alliances, which aim to fight homophobia. But not all schools have programs like that.

Parents can go a long way in helping, Robinson said. "Hopefully, parents are being supportive and have an open line of communication with their kids." But, he added, stopping bullies, and their effects, shouldn't be up to parents and kids alone.

"It needs to be a much more systematic effort," Robinson said. "Schools need to get behind this." He added that if you've complained to your school about and nothing has been done, you can take it to your local civil rights office.

Mustanski also suggested looking for resources outside of school, including community groups and online help—like the Trevor Project, which offers a hotline for and bisexual kids who are thinking of suicide or hurting themselves.

One question from the current study is whether the findings would be similar in the United States or other countries. Robinson said he "strongly suspects" the general patterns would be the same in the United States as in England.

But you can't know for sure without the numbers, Mustanski pointed out. "We absolutely need a study like this in the U.S.," he said.

Explore further: LGBTQ youth more likely to be truant or to consider or commit suicide

More information: For help in dealing with anti-gay bullying, go to the It Gets Better project.

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2 / 5 (4) Feb 04, 2013
One thing they didn't mention. Probably since it isn't politically correct. Homosexuals bully others, and commit violence towards others, including and especially at those younger than themselves at a far higher rate than do hetrosexuals.

Homosexuals have a higher likelyhood of being a bully, a child molesters, a murder, or a criminal than heterosexual.
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 04, 2013
One thing they didn't mention
Homosexuals have a higher likelyhood of being a bully, a child molesters, a murder, or a criminal than hetrosexual.

totally true. also, your mother is a known whore, you have a higher likelihood of having a small penis, and most certainly stupid, poor and ugly; and technically, you can't count yourself among "hetrosexuals", since your girlfriend is a dirty fleshlight.
thank god you don't believe in political correctness, so i don't need to engage in debating your complete factual incorrectness, and simply apply the good old biblical rule - unto others do what you expect to receive. oh, and do be careful tossing around libelous statements you pull out of whatever hole you've got for brain. strange that the subject got such a rise out of ya, is someone projecting? if you really believe the garbage you'd typed, you might seek counselling - reality can be rough on those who have no regard for facts. i do hope it gets better for you, sir. god bless
2.3 / 5 (3) Feb 08, 2013
Fact hurt dont they vostokuilds. Progressives such as yourself believe homosexuals are too sensitive, too weak minded, too dumb, to know the truth. I believe that homosexuals ARE strong enough to hear the truth.

Fact, Most homosexuals have been abused by homosexuals.
Fact, Homosexuals are more likely, as a percentage of population, to be pedophiles.
Fact, Homosexuals are more likely, as a percentage of population, to be violent criminal.
the negative facts can go on and on.

If you choose to live the homosexual lifestyle there are major risks. Problem is, Progressives think homosexuals are too dumb to be told of the risks honestly. If it is ok to tell smokers the risks of smoking, then why is it not ok to tell homosexuals the risks?
5 / 5 (1) Feb 09, 2013
Summary: kids grow up; adults tend to be more civil to each other than kids.
1 / 5 (1) Feb 10, 2013
How many borderline cases of homosexuality will die of AIDS because they will not be bullied into mending their ways? How many innocent bystaders will die of AIDS spred by these bullied bleeding-heart victims (pardon, "survivors")?

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