CDC: Non-straight youth more at risk
June 7th, 2011
12:20 PM ET

CDC: Non-straight youth more at risk

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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.

Did you know at an early age that you were gay? Share an iReport.

soundoff (161 Responses)
  1. Fred

    This article is totally stupid.
    This study shows how narrow are the researchers' views.
    Without being a scientist I saw a lot of drugs, smoke, alcohol, bad behavior around the world most in hetero group. I can write the same article about them. What kind of info is that??
    .....and just to let you know, I love women.

    June 7, 2011 at 23:27 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Stephen


      Your point? This article is talking about a higher rate of drug use (and so forth) among a specific subgroup of the population that have something in common (they are not straight). There's nothing wrong with that. Researchers investigate subgroups all the time.

      June 8, 2011 at 03:37 | Report abuse |
  2. steve

    This article is totally stupid.
    This study shows how narrow are the researchers' views.
    Without being a scientist I saw a lot of drugs, smoke, alcohol, bad behavior around the world most in hetero group. I can write the same article about them. What kind of info is that??
    and just to let you know, I love women.

    June 7, 2011 at 23:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. mike

    well ant that a slap on the ass. lol jk jk

    June 8, 2011 at 00:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. mike

    and that is that. LOL jk jk

    June 8, 2011 at 00:35 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Michael Bonanno

    When we point 1 finger at someone else, there are 3 fingers pointing back at us. Enough said.

    June 8, 2011 at 01:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Ryan

    I'm a well adjusted gay male & feel lucky to have a family that has never disowned me. Also, being more on masculine side I never had to deal with ridicule, teasing, put-downs that other gay teens had to endure. So many people are just hateful, self-righteous, judgmental. I had an uncle die of Aids when I was a teenager...my father who was older than him use to always make fun of him. My uncle was a closeted gay fellow...a well respected school teacher for 28 yrs...students loved him. By the way, my fathers other son is gay also!

    June 8, 2011 at 01:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. hitler

    stop the hatin

    June 8, 2011 at 07:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. jp


    June 8, 2011 at 07:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. jp

    i had beans for breakfast

    June 8, 2011 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. sanjosemike

    Religion can steal your heart as well as your mind.


    June 8, 2011 at 10:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Single Servant

    It looks like most of the comments on here are mission the point of the article, which is the risk for teens when rejected by their families. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the lifestyle, how will you respond to your teen if they enter into it? Will you reject them or love them? The person, your daughter, your son, your neice, your nephew, your granddaughter, your grandson, how will you respond to them? That's the issue not whether it's right or wrong, good or bad, will you accept them, still love them? I can love and accept my daughter without agreeing with her choices whatever they are. It can make all the difference as to what more destructive choices they make if you reject them.

    June 8, 2011 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. steve

    we need more support its known fact and to have family members not care its hard to be a gay teen i know the feeling the weight of the world is kinda on em its hard and can be harmful i had times in my teen years that if i had the chance i would of ended it i know its tough

    June 8, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Smitty

    So the no straights will use drugs more and kill themselves? What's the issue here? That's not a bad thing...

    June 8, 2011 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. boka

    Aren't gays and lesbians the same meaning? Why the redundancy? It's like saying crippled handicapped.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. steve

    Being gay is not normal, period.

    June 8, 2011 at 11:49 | Report abuse | Reply
    • boka

      What's normal? Why not be happy for people?

      June 8, 2011 at 12:56 | Report abuse |
  16. Nathan

    First, I completely agree with the policy conclusion. Rejecting or ridiculing or belittling gay and lesbian youth, and so making their lives that much harder, and depression and self-destructiveness that much more likely, just has to stop. There is nothing good in it, nothing whatsoever. We need people to be courageous and stand up against prejudice and persecution. However, the "science" in this article is utterly empty. There is a correlation between gay/lesbian behavior and risky behaviors, and then there is sheer speculation about the cause of the correlation, speculation that takes us directly to the desired policy and so completely throws into oblivion the question of what else might be at work here, what other factors might be in play. Yet actually knowing the truth about this instead of just leaping to the desired conclusion might do more good for gay and lesbian teens in the long run. In the meantime, we don't need fake science to know that we should treat gay and lesbian youth respectfully and stand up to prejudice and harassment whenever we see it.

    June 8, 2011 at 12:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. nylilady

    This statement is just aimed mostly at the Christians but all can learn for it. You say that the bible says this and the bible says that, what you are saying so only what you or someone interrupts the bible to say. Plus the bibles used today are not complete bibles, there are so many "books of the bible" that are not in the bibles used today because MAN does not like what they say so there for the church decided not to publish them with the rest of the bible we use in today’s time. Also the original way the bible was written there is nothing in it about straight gays or transgender.

    June 8, 2011 at 15:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. tom-ay

    Fact? Religion is NOT fact. Religion in NOT in the non-fiction section of the store. It is in the religion section. That book you read has been translated and reinterrpretted THOUSANDS of times. It used to say black people were inferior. It used to say divorce was immoral. It used to say s-e-x before marriage was a sin. It keeps changing so why does the buck stop here and your "facts"? Doesn't also say give all your money to the poor? No? Not anymore I guess.... Many people have taken their lives becasue we have tried to 'reprogram' them like a pavlovian canine...now THAT is a fact. The results are sad. Ask a gay person what they have gone through–why do striaght people claim to be the experts?

    June 8, 2011 at 18:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Joe

    CDC=Centers for Dumb A$$ control. Only the Dumb A$$#S are in the CDC.

    June 8, 2011 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply

    so gays are the violent ones now

    June 9, 2011 at 00:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. JJ

    Gays are human too!!! And doesn't God say in the bible that he loves all of his children, even though we're all "sinners?"

    June 9, 2011 at 16:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Amber

    Wow this is all a bunch of hypicritical stuff. Don't use the bible to back up your opinions against others. Maybe the bible does say that being gay is a sin, but judging that gay person is a sin also, then turning in around and judging those who judge is not any different. whats wrong with you people? Dont bring religion into this and say christians are the killers. I know many gays who are christians and beleive in god, and there is nothing wrong with that. Christians killed people yes but every religion has wars somewhere in history, how about all the history before christianity, oh but that must not count since it don't prove your point right. I am a republican and a christian, i think gays should be accepted and able to benifiet as a married couple does my views on actual marriage of it are different though but its not my place to tell others how to run there life. If we would worry about making our own families happy instead of trying to fix everything we think is wrong with the world maybe there wouldn be so many divorces and kids wouldnt be so violent. Stop worrying about gays out there and worry about whats going on inside your own home.

    June 10, 2011 at 21:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. Carlton

    Hey LGBT folks, if your parents were the same gender would you be here? So now explain to everyone how this lifestyle is natural? I'll explain it for you, it's not!

    June 5, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse | Reply
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