Research Brief: Bisexual Youth Experience

Summary

This March marks the 6th Annual Bisexual Health Awareness Month. Bisexual youth comprise a substantial proportion of youth who are part of the LGBTQ community. An analysis of national data from the 2015–2017 Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 7% of youth identified as bisexual, compared to 2% as gay or lesbian and 4% as not sure. Bisexual youth may be exposed to more stigma from both the majority population, for not being heterosexual, and by the gay and lesbian communities for not having exclusive same-gender relationships and attractions. Despite the prevalence of bisexual identities among youth, there is currently a lack of information on outcomes specific to bisexual youth in the United States. This research brief focuses on understanding mental health and victimization associated with bisexual youth using national data from the YRBS.

Results

Mental health disparities exist for bisexual youth, with almost half seriously considering suicide in the past 12 months. Nearly 2 in 3, (66%) of bisexual youth felt sad and hopeless for two or more weeks in a row in the past 12 months, compared to 27% heterosexually-identified youth, 49% gay and lesbian youth, and 46% of youth who were not sure of their sexual identity. Further, 48% of bisexual youth seriously considered suicide, 40% have made a plan for how they would attempt suicide, and 27% have attempted suicide.

More than one in three bisexual youth reported being bullied at school, and one in five reported being forced to have sexual intercourse. Among bisexual youth, 21% (24% female and 8% male) reported having been forced to have sexual intercourse. This is compared to 5% of heterosexually-identified youth (9% female and 2% male), 16% gay and lesbian (15% female and 17% male), and 12% youth who were not sure of their sexual identity (11% female and 13% male). Additionally, 36% and 30% of bisexual youth reported having been bullied on school property and electronically bullied, respectively, in the past 12 months.

Methodology

Beginning in 1991, the CDC collected data representative of students in grades 9–12 attending U.S. high schools through the YRBS. State, territorial, tribal, and large urban school districts that receive funding from CDC provide data representative of high school students or middle school students. Ongoing surveys, conducted biennially February–May of each odd-numbered year, is self-administered to youth in their schools. The current data are combined weighted national survey data from 2015 and 2017. Youth were identified as bisexual based on their response to the YRBS question “Which of the following best describes you?” with options: heterosexual (straight), gay or lesbian, bisexual, and not sure. The 2015 and 2017 YRBS national level data does not include questions focused on youth gender identities.

Looking Ahead

While previous large-scale studies on LGBTQ youth have included bisexual youth in their samples, they often fail to capture the unique stressors faced by bisexual youth and in doing so, further alienate an already vulnerable population. Our analysis of the YRBS data highlighted the increased rates of depressed mood, suicidality, and victimization among bisexual youth. These disparities could be due to fewer protective factors in the lives of bisexual youth (Saewyc et al., 2009) and the increased stigma thought to be faced by bisexual individuals (Callis, 2013) that were highlighted in theoretical and less representative work.

The Trevor Project remains committed to understanding and addressing the needs of bisexual youth across our research, advocacy, and crisis service departments. For example, over 34,000 youth took part in The Trevor Project’s own National Survey focused on better understanding the lives of LGBTQ youth. Our large sample size will allow us to further explore the individual needs of subgroups of LGBTQ identities, including bisexual youth.

References

Callis, A. S. (2013) The black sheep of the pink flock: Labels, stigma, and bisexual identity, Journal of Bisexuality, 13(1), 82-105, doi: 10.1080/15299716.2013.755730

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2015-2017. Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data. Available at: www.cdc.gov/yrbs. Accessed on March 12, 2019.

Saewyc, E., Homma, Y., Skay, C. L., Bearinger, L., Resnick, M. D., & Reis, E. (2009). Protective factors in the lives of bisexual adolescents in North America. American Journal of Public Health, 99(1), 110-7.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

Download the PDF


Research Brief: Data on Transgender Youth

Summary

The inclusion of sexual identity measures in large scale national surveys have added to our knowledge about the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning youth (LGBQ). For example, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) has highlighted adverse mental health indicators among LGBQ students, including greater depressive symptoms, increased rates of seriously considering suicide, and higher rates of attempted suicide (Zaza et al., 2016). Until now, there has been a lack of nationwide data on risk factors and negative outcomes associated with transgender youth in the U.S. (diGiacomo et al., 2018). This brief report highlights newly released data from the 2017 YRBS which focuses on transgender high school students (Johns et al., 2019).

Results

Overall, 1.8% of youth identified as transgender. The almost 2% prevalence rate is more than double the previously available estimate of 0.7%. The prior estimate was based on the patterns of transgender identity among adults (Herman et al., 2017). However, it was noted that the 0.7% estimation would be inaccurate if younger cohorts identify as transgender at a sharply higher rate than 18–24 year olds. This YRBS data reveals that younger youth are indeed identifying as transgender at an increased rate.

Transgender youth reported significantly increased rates of depression, suicidality, and victimization compared to their cisgender peers. Notably, in the past year, one in three transgender youth reported attempting suicide, almost one-third reported being a victim of sexual violence, and more than half reported a two-week period of depression.

Methodology

This data represented the largest ever federal effort to capture data on transgender youth by surveying 118,803 high school students in ten states (Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Rhode Island, Vermont, Wisconsin) and nine large urban school districts (Boston, Cleveland, District of Columbia, Detroit, Broward County, Los Angeles, New York City, San Diego, San Francisco). Youth gender identity was based on their response to the YRBS question, “Some people describe themselves as transgender when their sex at birth does not match the way they think or feel about their gender. Are you transgender?” In this report, prevalence rates are based on youth who indicated “Yes, I am transgender” or “No, I am not transgender.” Youth who indicated that they were “not sure” if they were transgender or who indicated that they did not understand the question were excluded from this analysis.

Looking Ahead

This new data provides key insights about transgender youth. However, our knowledge is still incomplete as only 10 states and 9 large urban school districts included a question on gender identity in the 2017 YRBS. Additionally, we do not have information about other youth who do not identify as cisgender including gender fluid, non-binary, and agender youth. The Trevor Project and partner agencies have long advocated for the inclusion of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression questions in population based surveys, including the YRBS. We will continue our efforts to ensure that this valuable data is collected from all states and large urban school districts to best understand and support these youth.

References

diGiacomo, E., Krausz, M., Colmegna, F., Aspesi, F., & Clerici, M. (2018). Estimating the risk of attempted suicide among sexual minority youths: A systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(12),1145-1152

Herman, J.L., Flores, A.R., Brown, T.N.T., Wilson, B.D.M., & Conron, K.J. (2017). Age of individuals who identify as transgender in the United States. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute.

Johns M.M., Lowry R., Andrzejewski J., et al. (2019). Transgender identity and experiences of violence victimization, substance use, suicide risk, and sexual risk behaviors among high school students — 19 states and large urban school districts, 2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly. 68, 67–71. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6803a3

Zaza, S., Kann, L., & Barrios, L. C. (2016). Lesbian, gay, and bisexual adolescents: population estimate and prevalence of health behaviors. Journal of the American Medical Association, 316(22), 2355-2356.

For more information please contact: [email protected]

Download the PDF


New Federal Survey Shows 2% of Us High School Students Identify As Transgender

The Trevor Project commends the CDC for counting transgender youth

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention today released a report that shows almost 2 percent of high school students identify as transgender, and 35 percent attempted suicide in the past year. The research was included in the CDC’s latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR): “Transgender Identity and Experiences of Violence Victimization, Substance Use, Suicide Risk, and Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students — 19 States and Large Urban School Districts, 2017.

Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director of The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ young people, commented on the importance of the report:

“The CDC’s new groundbreaking report shows that transgender youth exist in much greater numbers than researchers previously estimated1. By collecting data inclusive of gender identity, the report shows the very real health risks faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth. The CDC’s findings highlight the need for even more policies to protect transgender and gender nonconforming youth, as well as additional support for LGBTQ-affirming organizations like The Trevor Project.

“The Trevor Project has worked with other groups for years to advocate for the CDC’s inclusion of transgender youth in its Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), and we commend them for acknowledging the needs of transgender young people in the only federal survey of youth health. Transgender and gender nonconforming youth contact The Trevor Project every day with questions about health, mental wellness, gender expression, and more. Now with inclusive health data that reflects the wide spectrum of gender identities, The Trevor Project can better inform its suicide prevention, risk detection, and response programs.

“We know the work is not over. This new YRBS data is game-changing, but still incomplete as long as only 10 states and 9 large urban school districts are choosing to ask about gender identity and expression. The Trevor Project will continue to educate and encourage decision-makers across the country to adopt the gender identity and expression questions in the next round of YRBS surveys. Only by understanding who our youth are and how they identify can we craft policies to allow every young person to thrive.”

The CDC released its latest Youth Risk Behavior Survey on June 14, 2018.

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available via chat every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678.

1 Previously, the Williams Institute estimated that .7 percent of youth ages 13–17 identify as transgender (2017).


The Trevor Project Responds: CDC Report Shows Increased Suicide Rates Lower U.S. Life Expectancy

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention organization for LGBTQ young people, responded to the CDC’s “Suicide Mortality in the United States, 1999–2017” report. Released today, the study is one in a series of three government reports and shows a drop in US life expectancy.

“Today’s CDC report highlights the significant increase in suicide rates over time, proving that it is a continued public health crisis. For 10 years suicide has been the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., but we know that young people, specifically LGBTQ youth, are particularly impacted. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for all young people. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of all transgender people have attempted suicide — many before the age of 25.

It’s now more important than ever to provide dedicated resources, in-depth research, legislation, and access to healthcare and education that supports LGBTQ youth and their wellness. The Trevor Project will continue fighting to save LGBTQ young lives, and will always be here for them to make sure they know that their life has value, and that they are loved and never alone.”
—Amit Paley, CEO & Executive Director, The Trevor Project

If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386. Counseling is also available via chat from 3-10 p.m. EST every day at TheTrevorProject.org/Help, or by texting 678-678 from Monday-Friday, 3-10 p.m. EST.


Report: Protecting LGBTQ Youth Through Inclusive School Suicide Prevention Policies in California

School policies are an important part of suicide prevention, especially because of the amount of time young people spend at school. Released today, The Trevor Project’s new report shows that implementing legislation like California Assembly Bill 2246, which requires schools serving grades 7–12 to establish student suicide prevention policies, dramatically increases the number of policies that address the needs of high-risk populations including LGBTQ youth.

After reading hundreds of school suicide prevention policies from all across the state, The Trevor Project’s researchers found that only 3% of policies implemented before passage of AB 2246 in 2016 included LGBTQ youth, compared to more than 90% of those written afterwards. Today, 25% of California’s school suicide prevention policies still do not address LGBTQ students.

It is vital that all California policies be updated to comply with AB 2246, because studies show that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of all trans people have made a suicide attempt — many before the age of 25. A third of all lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are bullied at school, and almost half of them seriously consider attempting suicide, almost 4 times more likely than their straight peers.


The Trevor Project Reviews California Schools’ Suicide Prevention Policies

The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ youth, released a report about California Department of Education schools’ compliance with AB 2246, which requires schools serving grades 7–12 to establish student suicide prevention policies.

The organization contacted all 478 school districts and local education agencies in California which serve youth in grades 7–12. After multiple attempts at contact, 86% of the school districts were found to have a student suicide prevention policy. 70% of the school districts without a suicide prevention policy were rural, defined as more than 40 miles from a major city; and 80% of school districts without a suicide prevention policy were smaller than average.

School policies are an important part of suicide prevention, especially because of the amount of time young people spend at school. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people. Lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are more than four times more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers, and nearly half of all trans people have made a suicide attempt. 1/3 of all lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are bullied at school, and almost half of them seriously consider attempting suicide, almost 4 times more likely than their straight peers.

Read the full report.


Over Half of LGBTQ Youth in New National Survey Have Been Diagnosed With Eating Disorders

NEW YORK CITY — Feb. 28, 2018

****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE****

A new national survey of LGBTQ youth found that a majority of those surveyed have been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Even more shocking, half of the LGBTQ youth surveyed who have not been diagnosed suspect they have an eating disorder.

The disturbing results were part of a new national survey, designed to better understand how LGBTQ youth are affected by eating disorders, and was conducted by The Trevor Project, the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA)  and Reasons Eating Disorder Center. The results were released in conjunction with National Eating Disorders Association Awareness Week, held this year between Feb. 26 and March 4 with the theme “Let’s Get Real.”

The results illustrate the need for increased support for this community. Of the LGBTQ youth surveyed, 54% of the participants indicated that they had already been diagnosed with an eating disorder. Of those diagnosed with an eating disorder, 58% have considered suicide.

“We were stunned by these results,” said Amit Paley, The Trevor Project’s CEO and Executive Director. “We need to do far more to help the alarming number of LGBTQ youth living with eating disorders and struggling with thoughts of suicide. We are grateful to partner with NEDA and Reasons Eating Disorder Center to shed light on this public health crisis and help save more LGBTQ lives.”

“We are honored to partner with the Trevor Project on this critical survey,” said Claire Mysko, CEO of NEDA. “The results make it clear that troubling numbers of LGBTQ youth are affected by eating disorders and self-harm. Together, we are working to raise awareness and put live-saving resources into the hands of those in need. It’s time to get real about these issues and ensure that everyone has access to the support they deserve.”

The first-of-its-kind survey includes a sample of 1,305 self-identified LGBTQ youth ages 13 to 24 from across the country. The report shows:

  • 54% of LGBTQ youth respondents reported having been diagnosed with an eating disorder compared to 5% of the heterosexual peers.
  • Trans youth who identify as straight are the most at risk, with 71% of those having been diagnosed with an eating disorder, anorexia being the most common.
  • There is a dangerous overlap in the consideration of suicide and eating disorders, with 58% of LGBTQ youth respondents who have been diagnosed with an eating disorder having considered suicide.

Stigma and stereotypes, especially amongst LGBTQ youth, make this a hard issue for some to talk about and seek help for. The goal of NEDAwareness Week 2018 is to bust myths, elevate marginalized voices, and reach those in need with appropriate support and resources.

Read the full results on The Trevor Project website here: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources/eating-disorders-among-lgbtq-youth/

Learn more about NEDAwareness Week: www.NEDAwareness.org

ABOUT THE TREVOR PROJECT

The Trevor Project is the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people. The Trevor Project offers a suite of 24/7/365 crisis intervention and suicide prevention programs, including TrevorLifelineTrevorText, and TrevorChat as well as the world’s largest safe space social networking site for LGBTQ youth, TrevorSpace. Trevor also offers an education program with resources for youth-serving adults and organizations, a legislative advocacy department fighting for pro-LGBTQ legislation and against anti-LGBTQ rhetoric/policy positions, and conducts research to discover the most effective means to help young LGBTQ people in crisis and end suicide. If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or suicidal, our trained crisis counselors are available 24/7/365 at 1-866-488-7386 and www.TheTrevorProject.org/Help

ABOUT THE NATIONAL EATING DISORDERS ASSOCIATION

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), headquartered in New York City, is the leading U.S. non-profit organization supporting individuals and families affected by eating disorders. NEDA serves as a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to quality care. Each year, NEDA helps millions of people across the country find information and appropriate treatment resources through its toll-free, live helpline, its many outreach programs and website. NEDA advocates for advancements in the field and envisions a world without eating disorders.

For more information or to chat with a trained volunteer, visit www.MyNEDA.org

Or contact NEDA’s Live Helpline @ 800-931-2237
Monday–Thursday, 9am–9pm (EST) / Friday, 9am–5pm (EST)
In a crisis? Text NEDA to 741741; 24 hours a day/seven days a week

ABOUT REASONS EATING DISORDER CENTER

Reasons Eating Disorder Center, located in Los Angeles, California, offers eating disorder treatment programs for adolescents and adults who suffer from Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge-Eating, ARFID, and other related forms of disordered eating. We offer inpatient, residential, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient programs for the treatment of eating disorders. We are a gender inclusive treatment program.

CONTACTS

Calvin Stowell – [email protected]

Greenleaf & Associates — 323-660-5800

Vicki Greenleaf — [email protected]

JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Learn more at: www.nedawareness.org

Follow #NEDAwareness

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/NationalEatingDisordersAssociation

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/NEDAstaff

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/neda


Alarming Rise in Death by Suicide Among 10-14 Year Old Youth

Data released in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Morbidity and Mortality Report shows that the rate of death by suicide among adolescents, 10 – 14 years old, has been on the rise and is now higher than that of death by motor vehicles.  In 2009 approximately 1 youth per 100,000 died by suicide, compared to 2014 when approximately 2 youth per 100,000 took their own lives.

At the Trevor Project, the nation’s only accredited suicide prevention program for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning (LGBTQ) youth under 25, we hear from youth every day about the struggles they are facing.  According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) report, we know that LGB young people in 9th to 12th grade attempt suicide at a rate more than four times that of their heterosexual peers.  While reliable national statistics for LGB youth in the 10 – 14 year old range do not exist, we know from the daily crisis calls, chats, and texts we receive that they too are at risk for suicidal ideation, particularly during this critical time in their identity development.

Of note, the rate of death by motor vehicles has dropped significantly over the same period that the rate of death by suicide has increased, among 10 – 14 year olds. The success in combatting motor vehicle deaths is attributable to a comprehensive approach including infrastructure improvements, policy and system change, partnerships, education and awareness, along with a major investment of over $576 million by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration funded in grants to promote motor vehicle safety and the U.S. If similar comprehensive, multifaceted national suicide prevention efforts were implemented and brought to scale, as outlined in the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, this country would have the potential to reverse the trend in suicide mortality.

“At The Trevor Project we are very disturbed to know that suicide is rising among the youth of this nation.  We receive calls from youth as young as 9 years old who are looking for support as they struggle with their sexual and gender identity,” said Abbe Land, Executive Director and CEO of The Trevor Project.  “It is imperative that more resources need to go toward preventing suicide in this country.  It is unconscionable that significant dollars are not allocated when we know that suicide can be prevented.  We call upon our national, state and local leaders to take action immediately.”

While incredibly informative about prevalence, the report does not include information on the causes of these trends.  There are certainly many contributing factors to consider, but is it also very important to note what can be done to foster resilience and safety for LGBTQ and other youth.  Families, schools, and communities must come together to reduce the risk for youth suicide by creating safe, connected environments that foster resiliency, non-violent problem solving skills, and coping skills.  In particular, the public can take part in improving the lives of young people who report being LGBTQ by showing them that we all care about their mental health:

  • Connect youth to Trevor’s crisis services.  We save young lives 24/7 through the Trevor Lifeline at 1-866-488-7386.  TrevorChat.org is available 3-9 pm Eastern Time daily, and youth can text TrevorText by sending the message START to 678678 Thursday – Friday 4-8pm Eastern Time. Young people can also find friends on our online safe supportive community TrevorSpace.org as well as resources at our Support Center.
  • Create classrooms of peers who are better equipped to help through acceptance and support with Lifeguard, Trevor’s free online suicide prevention and crisis intervention education program for middle and high school students.
  • Advocate for the adoption of comprehensive, inclusive suicide prevention policies in school districts around the country and encourage the use of our Model School Policy which can help school districts draft suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention policies based on their specific needs.

Help create a bright future for LGBTQ and all youth by showing that you truly care and that they can thrive, they matter, and they deserve support.  More resources are available at www.thetrevorproject.org.  The Trevor Project is a partner of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, the public-private partnership advancing the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and championing suicide prevention as a national priority.