There is no shortage of headlines to remind us how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender teens face far higher rates of bullying in school than their peers, and how that abuse can lead to depression, self-harm and suicide. But a new study that collected long-term data on gay and lesbian teens suggests that, per Dan Savage, things really do get better.
But how much better? That’s a little more complicated.
Researchers analyzed data collected from 4,135 teens and young adults in England over seven years and found that more than half of those who self-identified as gay reported being bullied at the beginning of the study, with 57 percent of girls and 52 percent of boys reporting being harassed. But that number dropped to 9 percent for gay and bisexual boys and 6 percent for lesbian and bisexual girls by the study’s end in 2010.
These numbers are a clear indicator that peer harassment lessens over time — and that’s really good news — but the study also reveals that things are far from perfect after high school, particularly for gay males. Researchers found that gay men were still bullied four times as often as heterosexual males well into adulthood.