National Coming Out Day report finds openly LGBT youth happier

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youth who are out to their immediate family or at school report higher levels of happiness, optimism, acceptance and support, according to a new report on LGBT youth released today, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) by the Human Rights Campaign – the America’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organisation.

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The report further analyses the results of a groundbreaking survey of over 10,000 LGBT-identified young people, first released this summer in a report titled “Growing Up LGBT in America.”

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The National Coming Out Day report shows that 9 out of 10 LGBT youth (91 percent) across this country are out to their close friends while youth are less likely to be out to immediate family (56 percent) and at school (61 percent).

“The good news is that unlike previous generations, many of today’s LGBT youth have someone in their life with whom they can be themselves,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “It is strikingly clear, however, that adults must do better in supporting LGBT youth who still fear family rejection, being judged and ostracised in school, rejected from their religious congregations and the broader community.”

The report also finds youth who are not out often face additional stressors and are more likely to be cut off from key forms of support including adults in their family or community to talk to and support organizations at school. Half of LGBT youth, both out and not, participate in online communities that address LGBT youth issues.

Among the report’s key findings:

  • Among youth who are not out to their family, the most frequent obstacle they describe is that their family is not accepting or homo/bi/transphobic;
  • Among youth who are not out at school, the most frequent obstacle they describe is that teachers or classmates will treat them differently or judge them;
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of LGBT youth who are not out to their immediate family say they do not have an adult in their family they could talk to if they were sad, a quarter (25 percent) of youth who are out say the same;
  • Among religious-identified LGBT youth who attend services regularly, only 19 percent are out within their congregation and a mere 11 percent are out to their clergy

“We know that LGBT youth who are out and accepted by even a handful of close friends or family are happier, and everyone has a role in creating an environment in which youth feel safe and comfortable being themselves,” said Ellen Kahn, director of the HRC Family Project and a professional social worker. “Today we should all consider what more we can be doing – from the conversations we have at the kitchen table or in the workplace, to comments made by national leaders in the media.”

This report, the second in a series of efforts to analyse the landscape for LGBT youth, includes a call to action for LGBT youth, their peers, parents, teachers, elected officials and religious leaders.

A full copy of the report is available at: www.hrc.org/youth.

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