Social Factors for LGBT Youth
In school, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) youth express concern for their safety. Over two thirds of LGBT youth, report feeling unsafe because of their sexual orientation and nearly half feel threatened due to their gender expression. In all, LGBT youth are more likely to have missed school at least once in the past thirty days because of fears concerning their personal safety. These fears are not unfounded. Most LGBT youth report having been sexually harassed. Furthermore, as compared to their non-LGBT peers, LGBT youth are more than three times more likely to have been injured or at least threatened with a weapon while at school.
Young people in the LGBT community are more likely than non-LGBT peers to fail in school, be rejected by their families and to experience homelessness. Research reflects a high number of homeless youth describe themselves as lesbian, gay bisexual or transgendered. Homeless LGBT youth often suffer from neglect. They live in greater danger of becoming addicted to drugs, getting involved in prostitution, and falling victim to violence. They also run an increased risk of contracting HIV.
With all that LGBT youth face, research has sown that LGBT youth suffer from higher than average rates of depression and are more likely to attempt suicide. Symptoms of depression to note are continual feelings of sadness and helplessness, enhanced sensitivity to rejection or failure, low self esteem, and feelings of guilt. Those suffering from depression frequently somatize symptoms and complain of headaches and/or stomach aches. Depressed youth tend to have frequent absences from school and perform more poorly while in school. Furthermore, depressed youth are more likely to attempts to run away from home. The onset of depression is often marked by abrupt changes in eating or sleeping patterns.
Tips for parents to help LGBT youth:
- Support groups are often helpful. LGBT will likely find comfort in identifying with others.
- If there are signs of depression, finding a mental heath professional that has experience in working with LGBT youth can make all the difference.
- Seek professional assistance yourself to aid in supporting your child.
- Keeping clear communication with the school environment so that you can stay current your child's special needs.
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