Bullying has been an ongoing issue for our kids and teens—both in person and online. While there have been some great strides made at combatting the issue, a recent report reveals bullying rates among the LGBTQ+ community continues to be a widespread issue. Here’s what parents need to know.
A recent report released by The Trevor Project analyzed the effect bullying has on LGBTQ+ kids. The conclusions from the survey point to the widespread issue and underscores the negative impacts bullying can have on a person’s wellbeing.
The new details take data from the 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, a survey done by The Trevor Project, which nearly 35,000 LGBTQ+ young people completed. The youth, who ranged in age between 13 to 24, answered questions on several topics, including bullying, conversion therapy, and how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting their lives.
The survey has some significant results, explicitly showing that in-person and digital bullying is still way too high for LGBTQ+ students. For example, the survey results show that 52 percent of LGBTQ+ young people in middle or high school reported being on the receiving end of in-person or electronic bullying within the past year.
What the numbers say for LGBTQ youth experiencing bullying
One in three survey respondents said they were bullied in person, including on the way to school, at school, at work, or a party. Forty-two percent reported experiencing electronic bullying, including text messages, social media, or other places online.
Looking deeper, The Trevor Project data shows that 65 percent of middle school participants reported bullying. In comparison, 49 percent of high school students said the same. In addition, 61 percent of nonbinary and transgender students reported bullying, compared to 45 percent of their cisgender LGBQ peers.
Zeroing in more, 70 percent of Native and Indigenous students reported bullying, followed by 54 percent of multiracial students. Fifty-four percent of white students, 47 percent of Latinx students, 41 percent of Black students, and 41 percent of Asian American/Pacific Islander students also reported experiencing bullying.
“These findings indicate that bullying of LGBTQ youth remains a significant area of concern, particularly among middle school students, students who are transgender or nonbinary, and Native/Indigenous students,” The Trevor Project explains. “This research underscores the dire need for increased investment in both bullying and suicide prevention initiatives that explicitly have protections for LGBTQ youth.”
Bullying isn’t a stand-alone issue—it can have a significant impact on youth’s mental health. For example, LGBTQ+ students who reported being bullied over the past year had a three times greater risk of attempting suicide in the past year.
Transgender and nonbinary youth were at greater risk of attempted suicide, with 32 percent reporting compared to 14 percent who were not bullied. In addition, the research found that 29 percent of LGBTQ middle school students who were bullied had a suicide attempt in the past year compared to 12 percent who did not report to experience it.
What can schools and parents do to help reduce bullying rates for LGBTQ+ youth?
The survey reports that when youth attend LGBTQ-affirming schools, the reports of bullying go down from 57 percent to 46 percent. The Trevor Project notes that schools can become for affirming LGBTQ students in several ways. This includes cultural and competence training for teachers and support staff, creating policies around sharing names and pronouns, and including LGBTQ+ issues in the school curriculum.
“By creating environments that are caring, accepting, and supportive of all students, school leaders and staff may be able to both directly impact the well-being of marginalized students and cultivate a peer culture that values and accepts all identities,” the report shares.
If you or someone you know is a member of the LGBTQ+ community and in need of support, The Trevor Project offers access to a crisis counselor 24/7, 365 days a year, from anywhere in the U.S. It is 100 percent confidential and 100 percent free.