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The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding
by same-sex attraction may hold less positive attitudes about school and may be more likely to have school problems. Both bisexual-attracted boys and girls appear to be significantly more likely to have school troubles and lower grade point averages. The study did not find significant differences in school outcomes or attitudes between heterosexual boys and boys reporting exclusively same-sex attraction.
Using data from waves 1 and 3 of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, Himmelstein and Bruckner (2010) examined both school and criminal punishments received by LGB youth. They found that sexual-minority adolescents were 1.25 to 3 times more likely than their heterosexual peers to receive punishment from schools, police, or courts. The authors note that this greater likelihood of punishment is not explained by greater engagement in troublesome behaviors and suggest that LGB youth may be targeted for punishment or that mitigating factors such as self-defense may be overlooked.
Although less research has focused on nonschool settings, LGBT youth experience victimization and violence in their homes, communities, and other institutions. In a 1998 study of 105 LGB youth aged 14–21, family-based victimization, including verbal and physical abuse, was related to disclosure of and openness about sexual orientation (D’Augelli et al., 1998). In addition, results from a convenience sample of 521 LGB youth aged 13–22 suggest that LGB youth experience dating and intimate partner violence at rates that may be similar to those for heterosexual youth (Freedner et al., 2002).
Other than studies in small LGBT-specific journals, very little literature includes or focuses on transgender or gender-variant youth’s experience of victimization or violence (Garofalo et al., 2006; McGuire et al., 2010). This lack of attention may be due to limited access to data sets that include transgender youth. Nonetheless, gender-based harassment and victimization clearly are a reality for transgender and gender-variant youth and are directly related to physical and emotional health outcomes. For example, a recent study of school victimization of gender-variant LGBT youth showed that the association between adolescent gender nonconformity and psychosocial adjustment in young adults is impacted by victimization as a result of perceived or actual LGBT status (Toomey et al., 2010).
Disparities in rates of substance use exist between LGB and heterosexual youth, with sexual minority youth reporting increased substance use and initiation of use at younger ages (Corliss et al., 2010; Marshal et al., 2009). The trajectory of substance use also appears to increase more rapidly for LGB youth compared with those who self-identify as heterosexual.