Gay, Bisexual, And LGBT Youth

1392 Words6 Pages
Introduction Today’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youths come out to family and friends at a younger age and public policy and support for their community is on the rise, yet LGBT youth are still faced with a significant risk of mental health issues. Adolescence is an important period of life characterized by rapid development where teenagers experience physical sexual changes and establish their gender identity. Youth who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual have been proven to demonstrate higher mental health and substance abuse issues than their heterosexual peers (Seil, Desai, & Smith 2014). Stressors from identifying as an LGBT youth come at different milestones in an individual’s life, but are not limited to: the age of first awareness of same-sex orientation, age of labeling oneself as LGBT, age of first disclosure of sexual orientation, and the age at which they disclose to a parent their orientation. When individuals are young, and realize they identify with a sexual minority, they may face psychological danger due to the risk of prejudice, discrimination, and living in a world that fosters “hereosexual love” (Kwak & Kim 2017). Most youths spend about one-third of their life aware of their same-sex orientation, but do not reveal this information to others. These years of secrecy and internalization can create significant worry, social withdrawal, fear, poor academic performance, and school avoidance. Normative experiences for LGBT youth are classified as victimization because of the psychological conflict they impose on individuals. Such experiences include: feeling different, experiencing atypical family life due to sexual orientation issues, and burdens such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic. This type of victimization in youth has been hypothesized to create a detrimental effect on mental health in adult years. Also, many LGBT youth experience verbal and physical attacks from their peers (D’Augelli, 2002). According to the 2011 “national school climate study”, 81.9% of sexual orientation minorities experienced unfair harassment due to their orientation and 63.5% believed their school to be an unsafe environment, ultimately not attending (Kwak & Kim 2017). The minority stress model argues
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