Studies Show LGBT Youth Face Higher Risk of Dating Violence

When dating violence is present among teensm it tends to lead to dating violence in their adult years,as well. Dating violence is prevalent among both heterosexual teens and LGBT teens. And while both groups are at risk for violence and abuse, LGBT teens are much more at risk than previously thought.

Types of Dating Abuse and Violence

Violence can be physical or emotional. LGBT teens suffer higher incidents of both types. LGBT teens are also more likely to suffer online and phone abuse and harassment than their heterosexual cohort. LGBT teens are more likely to suffer sexual coercion than heterosexual teens.

Urban Institute Study on LGBT Dating Violence Among Teens

The Urban Institute’s recent study focusing on dating violence among LGBT youth produced some frightening statistics. 

The study looked at a total of 5,647 young people. Among those, 3,745 reported either being in a current dating relationship or having ended a dating relationship within the past year. 

Across the board, LGBT youth are at higher risk of all sorts dating violence than are heterosexual youth. Transgender and female you are at the highest risk of teen dating violence.

Here are some statistics from the Urban Institute study:

  • 43% of LGBT youth and 29% of heterosexual youth reported being victims of physical dating violence.
  • 59 % of LGBT youth and 46% of heterosexual youth reported emotional abuse from a dating partner.
  • 37% of LGBT youth and 26% of heterosexual youth reported cyber/phone abuse and harassment.
  • 23% of LGBT and 12% of heterosexual youth have reported sexual coercion.

Particularly frighting is the violence level among transgender youth. Transgender youth represented a small percentage of the overall number of youths involved in the study, yet as a group, they reported the highest levels of violence, harassment, and sexual coercion. 

Using the categories above, transgender teens reported:

  • 89% had experienced physical dating violence.
  • 61% had been sexually coerced.
  • 59% had been emotionally abused.
  • 56% had suffered cyber and phone abuse and harassment.

These percentages are significantly higher than for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth, and much higher than for heterosexual youth.

Factors That May Place LGBT Youth at Increased Risk

LGBT youth face negative feedback from peers, teachers, society, and even from family members due to their sexual identity and gender identity. This is particularly true when a teen comes out to his family and peers. This is a time when LGBT youth can develop depression and suicidality.

LGBT youth also often feel unsafe at school which can lead to increased truancy and lower grades. LGBT youth also reported higher rates of perpetrating acts of victimization upon others. It is unclear at present why this number is higher in LGBT youth and lower among their heterosexual counterparts.

Early Intervention Programs Could Help

What is clear from the study is that schools need to implement intervention and prevention programs and strategies specifically aimed at LGBT youth. The school’s positive emotional message and climate toward LGBT youth is an important factor in mitigating bullying and other victimization tactics. 

Having a school counselor on campus who is specially trained in spotting victimized youth and intervening is a key factor in a school’s safety plan for youth.

On the positive side, LGBT youth are more likely to seek out help than their heterosexual counterparts when victimized. Because of this, peer-led groups can be a particularly effective measure for LGBT youth.

Additional Studies Are Needed

There are still many unanswered questions about the increased vulnerability of LGBT youth and  mitigating factors that work to protect this vulnerable group. There are also unanswered questions regarding the role that  gender identity and sexual orientation play in abuse. 

Additional studies are needed, including longitudinal studies. Longitudinal studies could help us understand more about what factors place LGBT more at risk for abuse and the effects of this abuse, both in the short and long-term.

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