It’s tempting to respond to this article with a scathing “you don’t say” but it is, at least, contributing to a body of data which confirms what anyone woke is already aware of. It’s an American study that reports on violence trends against Queer youth, and the outcomes aren’t pretty.
The first nationwide study to ask high school students about their sexuality found that gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers were at far greater risk fordepression, bullying and many types of violence than their straight peers.
“I found the numbers heartbreaking,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, a senior official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a division that administered the survey.
The survey documents what smaller studies have suggested for years, but it is significant because it is the first time the federal government’s biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the gold standard of adolescent health data collection, looked at sexual identity. The survey found that about 8 percent of the high school population described themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual, which would be about 1.3 million students.
These adolescents were three times more likely than straight students to have been raped. They skipped school far more often because they did not feel safe; at least a third had been bullied on school property. And they were twice as likely as heterosexual students to have been threatened or injured with a weapon on school property.
More than 40 percent of these students reported that they had seriously considered suicide, and 29 percent had made attempts to do so in the year before they took the survey. The percentage of those who used illegal drugs was many times greater than their heterosexual peers. While 1.3 percent of straight students said they had used heroin, for example, 6 percent of the gay, lesbian and bisexual students reported having done so.
Although I am glad to have more data, I also realize avowedly homophobic/transphobic people will not be swayed by facts. As Alberta is experiencing with the new explicit protections for trans kids, there are plenty of school boards fighting tooth and nail to maintain segregation and exclusion of trans youth. It’s not even a clean divide between the Catholic school board and the Public school board.
What is frustrating is the stigmatizing effect of having the debate in the first place. Misgendering, characterizing 5 year olds as sexual predators, dismissing research as “experimental” (file that under “I don’t think that means what you think it means”), the talk of “protecting our children” (from what? certainly not cis male priests or coaches), segregation–there’s no way trans youth listening to our opponents aren’t experiencing deleterious effects on their mental health.
As for me, I mostly feel the pressure of existential crisis rise when I start to comprehend how uninterested many people are in actual data and how those same people vote. That is… profoundly depressing. It’s like seeing a good friend caught up in an abusive relationship. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped, nor can you teach someone who does not want to learn. And the price of this reality is that I must tiptoe around fragile masculinity and transmisogyny, lest I join the statistics.
While transgender youth have increasingly appeared on the national radar, most recently in debates about school bathroom access, this survey did not include an option for teenagers to identify themselves as transgender. But that possibility may be coming. The C.D.C. and other federal health agencies are developing a question on gender identity to reliably count transgender teenagers which, a spokeswoman said, might be ready for a pilot test in 2017.
“Reliably” count. My eyes narrowed at that. Hopefully it isn’t some pseudoscientific codswallop from Ray Blanchard. The last thing trans youth need is for the CDC to contribute to trans gatekeeping.