Across Massachusetts and the US, research continues to demonstrate that LGBTQ+ youth are at significantly higher risk than their heterosexual peers in suicide attempts, drug/alcohol use, violent behavior, lower academic achievement, and serious physical and mental health issues.

The following is a compilation of research statistics and data from local, regional and national studies comparing LGBTQ+ youth to their heterosexual peers.

Did you know that Natick High School LGBTQ+ students are:

  • Over twice as likely to report depressive symptoms
  • Over 3 times more likely to self-injure (i.e. cut) themselves
  • Over 6 times more likely to have had a suicide attempt requiring medical intervention

Did you know that Massachusetts MetroWest LGBTQ+ youth are:

  • Over twice as likely to have begun drinking alcohol before turning 13 years old.
  • Over 5 times more likely to have skipped school in the past month because of feeling unsafe.
  • Over 8 times more likely to have had a suicide attempt requiring medical attention.
  • Over 9 times more likely to have been verbally harassed or assaulted on school grounds.
  • Over 9 times more likely to have used heroin one or more times during their life.

Did you know that for LGBTQ+ youth in Massachusetts schools:

  • 59% were not taught anything positive about LGBTQ people in their classrooms
  • 74% regularly heard the word gay used in a negative way, such as “that’s so gay”
  • 76% attended a school that did not have comprehensive anti-bullying policies, i.e. including specific protections for sexual orientation and gender identity
  • 87% regularly heard negative remarks about gender expression

Did you know that LGBTQ+ youth whose parents were highly rejecting of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, were:

  • Over 8 times as likely to have committed suicide
  • Over 6 times as likely to have high levels of depression
  • Over 3 times as likely to be at high risk for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Over 3 times as likely to use illegal drugs

MetroWest Adolescent Health Survey (MWAHS) 2014

The MWAHS is administered every two years to over 40,000 high school students in the MetroWest region to monitor trends in health and risk behaviors, and to identify emerging health issues. (The 2016 MWAHS results are not yet available)

Reported Behaviors LGBTQ+ students Heterosexual students

Attempted suicide in past 12 months 15.3% 3.2%

Considered suicide in past 12 months 34.1% 10.3%

Have “depressive symptoms” 45.2% 19.2%

Lifetime prescription drug misuse 13.8% 6.4%

Carried a weapon on school property in past month 5.6% 1.5%

Was bullied on school property in past year 34.4% 18.2%

For more information on the 2014 MWAHS, click here.

Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS) 2015

The MYRBS is conducted every two years by the MA Department of Education with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The 2015 MYRBS found LGBTQ students at higher risk than their heterosexual peers:

Reported Behaviors LGBTQ+ Students Heterosexual

Attempted Suicide 24.4% 4.2%

Used heroin one or more times in their life 7.9% 0.8%

Was in a gang in past year 13.6% 6.3%

Was bullied at school in past year 37.7% 15.5%

Was currently homeless 10.4% 3.0%

Is/was pregnant or got someone pregnant 8.3% 2.3%

Read more information on the MYRBS 2015 results, click here.

The Family Acceptance Project Study

The Family Acceptance Project of San Francisco State University, led this community initiative studying the effects of a family’s acceptance of their LGBTQ+ youth. Their research includes multiple, in-depth interviews with LGBTQ+ youth and their families and found that even a small amount of parental support made significant differences in the health and well-being of their LGBTQ+ child.

They identified a range of parent reactions when learning their child was LGBTQ+:

  • 30% were rejecting (highly and moderately rejecting)
  • 50% were ambivalent
  • 17% were accepting
  • 3% were celebratory

LGBTQ+ youth of even moderately rejecting parents had lower levels of depression/suicide attempts than those with highly rejecting parents, while illegal drug use and risk for HIV/STD’s was cut in half.

For more information on the Family Acceptance Project research, click here.

Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) National School Climate Survey (2015):

GLSEN surveys the school experiences of LGBTQ+ students, nationally and by state. Their research shows that most LGBTQ+ youth experience pervasive harassment and discrimination in their schools. However, the research also demonstrates that specific school-based supports can make a difference in providing a safer and more inclusive school environment.

GLSEN’s 2015 National School Climate Survey found:

  • 98.1% of LGBTQ+ youth heard “gay” used in a negative way at school (i.e. “that’s so gay”); and 67% of those students felt distressed by the comments.
  • 77% of schools did not have gender identity categories in their school anti-bullying policy
  • 50% of schools did not have a Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) club in their school
  • 85% of LGBTQ+ students were verbally harassed in the past year
  • 65% of LGBTQ+ students heard frequent homophobic remarks, such as “fag” and “dyke”
  • 29.8% of LGBTQ+ students were disciplined for public displays of affection that were not disciplined in heterosexual youth

For more information on the GLSEN 2015 National School Climate Survey, click here.