American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

New Study Shows Effect on LGBT Youth of State-Sponsored Discrimination

For his first action as HRC’s new president, AFER co-founder Chad Griffin released a new report quantifying the experiences LGBT youth in America.

The numbers are jaw-dropping:

  • LGBT youth are twice as likely as their peers to have been verbally harassed, called names and been physically in school.
  • Nearly half of LGBT youth say they do not “fit in” in their community while only 16 percent of non-LGBT youth feel that way.
  • 83% of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, but only 49 percent believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation surveyed more than 10,000 respondents ages 13-17, the largest known survey of LGBT teens.

Chad used today as a call to arms to make it better for the next generation:

“No one would say that growing up LGBT is easy, but this survey is a stark wake-up call to the daily toll that discrimination takes on vulnerable young people. We have a responsibility to change that, because we know all too well that there are real life consequences to inaction.”

When the state sponsors discrimination (in laws like California’s Prop. 8 and North Carolina’s Amendment One), it tells our youth that the ostracism they feel and the bullying they endure is justified. It destroys their hope of one day being happy and living a fulfilled life.

During the 2010 Prop. 8 trial, we saw that initiatives likes Prop. 8 are born out our animus and hatred.

“There is no group in American society who has been targeted by ballot initiatives more than gays and lesbians. They have essentially lost a hundred percent of the contests over same-sex marriage. The initiative process has been really the Waterloo of gay and lesbian politics.

Gary M. Segura, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

Even the Prop. 8 proponent’s own witness admitted as much under cross examination from David Boies:

“My view is that at least some people voted for Proposition 8 on the basis of anti-gay stereotypes and prejudice.”

-Kenneth P. Miller, Associate Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College

Today’s study about LGBT youth is a sobering reminder that the cost of discrimination is too great, but that there is hope that it will get better. It has to.