Being a teenager is tough and for most individuals, there was at last one incident in high school that made an impact on their lives. Some teenagers are having a hard time than others. Lesbian and gay teenagers are experiencing worse things than others. They face significantly greater health challenges as compared to their heterosexual counterparts.
A survey which was sponsored by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, Colorado Department of Education and Colorado Department of Human Sciences- Office of Behavioral Health is being conducted every two years. In 2013, the study revealed that more than 40,000 middle and high school students in the state were asked to identify themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual.
The said standardized survey (Healthy Kids Colorado Survey) can examine a wide array of health behaviors including physical activity and nutrition. It also entails topics like suicide, bullying, mental health, alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, sexual health and family protective factors.
The results were collated and analysed. It revealed that nearly half of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) teenagers had considered killing themselves or suicide in the past 12 months. This rate is alarming because it is four times higher than among heterosexual or straight students.
The survey also revealed that nearly 40% of LGB students said that they have used marijuana in the past month or 30 days. This rate is twice the rate among heterosexual students. Apparently, LGB students were twice as likely as heterosexual respondents to be bullied in school and in the community in the last 12 months or one year.
Furthermore, it showed that almost half of LGB students have reported drinking alcohol in the last 30 days compared to about only 30% in straight students. LGB students were also four times as likely as heterosexual students to have missed school days because they felt unsafe in school.
According to Sarah Nickels, a School Health Specialist, "The disparity between how lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) youths responded to the survey, compared to their heterosexual counterparts, is what all of us who work with youth are most concerned about."
She added,"We found that LGB youth who had someone to talk to or felt safe at school or were involved in extra-curricular activities were far less likely to consider suicide."
Furthermore, Leo Kattari, health policy manager at One Colorado, agreed with Nickels saying, "It's important to note the health challenges experienced by Colorado's LBG youth are not due directly to their sexual orientation or gender identity, but rather the bullying, societal stigma and unfair barriers they face each and every day."
Hence, LGB students need counselling and someone to talk to in school or in their homes for them to feel safe. The most surprising finding for Nickels had something to do with bullying. "It turns out that 6% of heterosexual students reported they'd been bullied by people who thought they were gay reminding us this affects all kids and this pattern of behavior makes people feel unsafe."