June 7th, 2011
12:20 PM ET
Tonight at 10 ET on CNN TV, "AC360º" examines a shocking "experimental therapy" designed to make feminine boys more masculine. See what one family says was the devastating result in a special report, "The Sissy Boy Experiment."
Acceptance is critical for gay teens' mental health, but many young people still experience rejection by peers and family members for their sexual orientation.
A new CDC report emphasizes the dangers of that rejection. Researchers found that gay, lesbian and bisexual youth are more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as substance use and violence. The report does not prove a cause and effect, but study authors recognize that a lack of acceptance is the likely culprit.
"We do know that there are some gay, lesbian [and] bisexual kids who face an incredible amount of stigma, discrimination, disapproval from their own families, social rejection at school, and all of these things can contribute to the disproportionate rates of health-risk behaviors that we’re reporting in this report," said Laura Kann, of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health, and lead author of the report.
"Those things are very real and they definitely can translate into what we’re seeing here in the data," she said.
The report looked at population-based data from 2001 to 2009 through the CDC's Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, which looks at health-risk behaviors. The CDC analyzed information from seven states and six large urban school districts. Students in the study were in grades 9 to 12.
Researchers found that youth who had sexual contact with members of the same sex, or who identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, were more likely to use tobacco, alcohol and other drugs, as well as engage in suicidal behaviors, violence, and unhealthy dietary behaviors.
The CDC observed similar patterns among white, black and Hispanic youth. They did not track information about socioeconomic background of participants.
This is the largest federal government report on this topic ever issued, but it corroborates the conclusions of many smaller studies done previously, Kann said.
A 2010 study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Nursing found that family acceptance of LGBT youth predicts positive outcomes in mental health, self esteem, and overall health status.
Kann stressed "how important it is to make sure that all youth are given the kind of environment where they can feel socially, emotionally and physically safe and supported."
"Schools, communities and families really need to do everything they can to make sure that happens for kids," she said.
If you're a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning young person in trouble, call the Trevor Project crisis line at 866-4-U-TREVOR.
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