Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Research

Looking briefly at personal and academic outcomes for LGBT individuals

LGBT individuals typically face social rejection, if not outright harassment and violence, in even the most “liberal and open-minded” parts of the United States, including the Portland area.

As a result of longstanding and ongoing rejection from the world around them, higher rates of depression and anxiety are found within the LGBT community than exists among heterosexuals and cisgender populations.

Regarding sexual orientation, numerous studies at local and national levels have confirmed that suicidal ideation and actual suicide attempts are at least 5-10x higher for all L/G/B adolescents and young adults compared to heterosexual youth and young adults. (1,4,7) Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth commit suicide 2-3x as often as heterosexual youth. (1,2,4,5) Multiple studies have found that 10-20% of all L/G/B adults report at least one suicide attempt during their lives. (1,2,5)

Suicidal ideation and attempts are even higher for Trans and gender non-conforming individuals. (5,7) Reflecting other collected data, a national study authored jointly by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law reported in January 2014 that 46% of Trans men and 42% of Trans women had attempted suicide at some point in their lives. (8)

The effects of social rejection, and harassment and violence, also exert a toll on academic outcomes. Numerous studies at both local and national levels have consistently found that LGBT students experience lower grades and decreased completion rates at high school and college levels. (1,3,6,8,9) Rates for all outcomes are worst for Trans and gender-nonconforming individuals. (8) For LGBT students overall:

  • 80% report harassment due to sexual orientation or gender identity (1,3)
  • 20% report being the victim of a physical attack (1,3)
  • 33% of LGB and 38% of Trans and gender-nonconforming college students have reported seriously considering leaving their institution due to issues surrounding harassment and non-acceptance (8)
  • 33% of LGBT college students reported they dropped out of college due to issues surrounding their sexual identity, including harassment (8)

Reflecting findings from other studies (and echoed in the CDC online site), one national study (9) concluded: “…victimization contributed to lower academic outcomes and lower self-esteem; however, school-based supports contributed to lower victimization and better academic outcomes. … Results suggested that… institutional supports can play a significant role in making schools safer for these students.”

Sources:

  1. CDC LGBT Youth website which included information from ten references.
    Specific data cited from the CDC site included:
  2. Coker TR, Austin SB, Schuster MA. “The health and health care of lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents.” Annual Review of Public Health, 2010; 31:457–477.
  3. Birkett M, Espelage DL, Koenig B. “LGB and questioning students in schools: The moderating effects of homophobic bullying and school climate on negative outcomes.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2009; 38:989–1000.
  4. Mustanski, B., & Liu, R. “A longitudinal study of predictors of suicide attempts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth.” Archives of Sexual Behavior, 2013; 42(3), 437-448.
  5. Haas, A., Rodgers, P., & Herman, J. “Suicide attempts among transgender and gender non-conforming adults: Findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Study.” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. January 2014.
  6. Mancini, O. “Attrition risk and resilience among sexual minority college students.” Columbia Social Work Review, 2011; 2:8-22
  7. “Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth.” Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2008
  8. 2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender People. National Study by the Q Research Institute for Higher Education.
  9. Kosciw, N., Palmer, N. Kull, R., & Greytak, E. “The effect of negative school climate on academic outcomes for LGBT youth and the role of in-school supports.” Journal of School Violence, 2013; 12(1), 45-63