LGBT youth bullying tied to lasting mental health problems, Northwestern study finds

Benjamin Din, Digital Projects Editor

Despite the “It Gets Better” campaign to combat the bullying of LGBT youth, a Northwestern Medicine study found about a third of LGBT adolescents still face discrimination, harassment and assault.

The study, led by Feinberg Prof. Brian Mustanski, discovered the struggles LGBT youth face are not only ongoing and severe, but also lead to mental health issues, including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We tend to think that society is evolving but we can’t just accept this narrative that ‘it gets better’ and think it gets better for everyone,” Mustanski said in a press release.

Mustanski’s study differs from others in that it took a look into the severity of the victimizations LGBT youth endure over time, rather than other studies which focused on one period of time.

“You can’t equate someone giving you a dirty look with someone physically assaulting you,” Mustanski said. “Victimizations that are more severe are going to have bigger effects. We scored them in a way that represented that, and we saw they had a profound effect on mental health rates over time.”

Although it is important to recognize the majority of these youth are doing well, Mustanski said change must occur for those that are not. Through the study, Mustanski said he hopes schools will be able to identify patterns of LGBT bullying to aid those who are harassed.

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