Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens face huge obstacles both in school and at home when it comes to acceptance. What we know, and have known for quite awhile, is that acceptance at home can combat the experience of depression and suicidal tendencies that plague so many gay and lesbian teens.
More recently we have learned that these teens are often punished more harshly by the school systems and law enforcement than their heterosexual peers. A study conducted by the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University interviewed LGBT teens who describe how difficult it was to pretend to be someone they were not all day long at school, only to return home to the same critical judgment. Those teens who can actually be themselves at home showed fewer signs of depression and hopelessness.
Another study in pediatrics looked at LGBT teens in grades 7 through 12, who it turns out are 3 times more likely to have been stopped by the police, expelled from school and have adult convictions than straight teens. The study did not look at why these teens were targeted. They may have been acting in self-defense or there may have been some other legitimate reason for their behavior, but unfortunately that was not made clear by this initial study. What did result was information that encourages institutions to look at why these disparities exist and to make greater efforts towards fairness. The very fact that these studies have caused LGBT issues to receive national attention is a relief for many teens.
More resources have been appearing on the scene of late to assist these teens as they struggle to fit in and be accepted for who they are. For those teens seeking support they can access such resources as the Trevor Project
, the Gay-Straight Alliance Network
and several groups at colleges and universities.