The Trevor Project's New Report Finds High Rates of Mental-Health Issues and Discrimination Among LGBTQ Youth

More than 75 percent of survey respondents reported that the current political climate has affected their mental health or sense of self.
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Rainbow flags are seen at the Stonewall National Monument, the first LGBTQ national monument, dedicated to the birthplace of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights movement, on June 4th, 2019, in New York City.

Rainbow flags are seen at the Stonewall National Monument, the first LGBTQ national monument, dedicated to the birthplace of the modern lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer civil rights movement, on June 4th, 2019, in New York City.

A new report published this week by the Trevor Project found staggering rates of mental-health issues and discrimination among LGBTQ youth. According to the Trevor Project, a non-profit that focuses on suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth, this is the "largest survey of LGBTQ youth mental health ever conducted," with more than 34,000 respondents from across the United States.

The report's release comes during Pride, a month when queer folks and allies come together to celebrate the community and advocate for equality.

Here are some key points from the report's findings.

Mental Health

Previous research has shown that LGBTQ individuals are more at risk for depression and suicide. In this new report, the Trevor Project found that 39 percent of LGBTQ youth—and more than half of respondents who identified as transgender or non-binary—had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Seventy-one percent of respondents said that they felt "sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year."

Last year, Tom Jacobs wrote for Pacific Standard about a study that showed that opioid abuse is also higher in the queer community. According to the study, social isolation as a result of sexual orientation has disproportionately affected gays, lesbians, and particularly bisexual women (who feel discrimination from heterosexual individuals, but can feel disapproval from lesbians as well, the researchers posit).

Conversion Therapy

Less than half of the participants in the Trevor Project's survey were out to an adult at school. Additionally, respondents said they disclosed their sexual orientation more readily than their gender identity.

Respondents also reported high levels of discrimination as a result of being LGBTQ: Two-thirds said someone had tried to "convince them to change their sexual orientation or gender identity." The report also found that suicide attempts were more than twice as likely among youth who had undergone conversion therapy.

As Kelley Czajka reported for Pacific Standard, as of February of this year, 15 states had banned sexual orientation "conversion therapy," which previous research has found to be both unsuccessful—and dangerous. (The number is up to 18 now: Massachusetts, Maine, and Colorado have all recently passed bans.) Czajka cites a report from January of 2018 that found that roughly 698,000 U.S. adults ages 18 to 59 had likely undergone conversion therapy at some point in their lives, with about 350,000 experiencing the therapy as adolescents.

Discrimination

Seventy-one percent of the Trevor Project's respondents reported experiencing discrimination as a result of sexual orientation or gender identity, and 58 percent of trans and non-binary individuals reported that they had been "discouraged from using a bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity."

Research suggests that discrimination against LGBTQ individuals may not be decreasing: In 2017, Brandon Tensley wrote for Pacific Standard about a new report that found that, although there is an increasing perception that LGBTQ people are more widely accepted by society, rates of violent crimes have remained the same since the 1990s. In fact, LGBTQ youth are particularly victimized, often through verbal and physical abuse—and these rates may be worsening.

Political Climate

Seventy-six percent of study respondents reported that the "recent political climate impacted their mental health or sense of self."

The Trump administration has repeatedly attempted to roll back rights for queer Americans. Trump also previously instituted a ban that prohibited trans people from serving in the military, and, most recently, the administration told embassies across the world not to publicly raise rainbow flags—a symbol of LGBTQ pride.

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