As LGBTQ awareness month gets under way this June, advocates are working to bring light to issues affecting LGBTQ youth. The Human Rights Campaign today released a study in conjunction with the University of Connecticut showing that over 12,000 LGBTQ youth participants -- more than 600 of them from Ohio -- face high levels of stress, bullying, exclusion, sexual harassment and assault.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, says the issues faced by this community must be addressed by policy makers and communities.
"While we have made great progress in terms of marriage equality and non-discrimination protections, our youth, our young people, are experiencing bullying; are experiencing rejection, in their homes around their own dinner tables, in their schools, and in their communities," Griffin said at an event in Cincinnati Thursday.
The 2018 LGBTQ Youth Report shows that 70 percent of respondants experienced bullying at school because of their sexual orientation. In addition, 67 percent said they heard family members make negative comments about LGBTQ people, and 85 percent reported average stress levels to be at a five or above, on a scale of 1 to 10.
Sexual violence also is common among LGBTQ youth, with 77 percent reporting sexual harassment and 11 percent reporting having been sexually assaulted or raped within the past year.
Bonita Campbell is the senior director of Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit organization that provides services for homeless youth, many of whom fall into the LGBTQ spectrum. Campbell says the report shows her there is still lots of work to be done to support LGBTQ youth in the area.
"We have a major need to continue to reach out to homeless and LGBTQ and transgender youth," she says. "They are often continually shunned from their families (and) schools are not trained effectively to be able to treat them with fairness and equity."
Griffin says that despite the discouraging results in the report, there are a number of positive takeaways.
"This survey also shows that our youth are so resilient," she says. "They are determined to change the world they are growing up in. They are standing up and speaking out. They are becoming advocates in their schools and their communities and in some cases, in their states."