A reminder of why homophobia is a bad thing

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Posted by .Scottieboy. at pool0181.cvx29-bradley.dialup.earthlink.net on August 06, 2001 at 04:52:33:

I've already expressed my support of Kevin and the annoyance at his movie being called 'homophobic', but I thought that some of the follow-ups and responses from some of the people on this board illustrated just how widespread a problem homophobia is.

So just to let people know that homophobia is very real, and has very serious effects on people, I'd like to point you to a news article from planetout.com

New study confirms gay teen suicide risk

Randy Dotinga, Gay.com / PlanetOut.com Network
Wednesday, August 1, 2001 / 03:10 PM

In the first national study of its kind, researchers found that gay and bisexual teens are more than twice as likely to be suicidal as their straight counterparts. Fifteen percent of kids with an attraction toward the same sex had considered or attempted suicide, compared to seven percent of the rest.

Other studies have also pointed to suicidal impulses among gay adolescents, but only in specific regions of the country. Unlike many of its predecessors, the new study relies on randomly chosen group of teens instead of kids from gay organizations or gathering places.

"I'm hoping we can stop arguing about sexual minority teens being at risk and do something about it," said Stephen Russell, a professor of human development at the University of California at Davis and co-author of the study, which appears in the August issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Russell looked at an ongoing national study of 12,000 teenagers in grades 7-12. Just over 7 percent of the boys reported being attracted to the same sex, compared to 5 percent of the girls.

Fifteen percent of those teenagers reported suicidal thoughts or attempts, a number that is significantly lower than other studies. The researchers said their methods may explain the difference.

While the 15 percent number may seem high, it must be taken in context, Russell said. "That still leaves 85 percent of that aren't at risk," he said. "The reality is that most of the gay kids in the study, and most of the gay people in the country, will grow up to be happy, healthy adults."

In another finding, researchers discovered that gay teens are more likely to be depressed and abuse alcohol and drugs. Depression and substance abuse are both considered risk factors for suicide in all teens.

"The classic explanation for the substance abuse is that they're literally self-medicating," Russell said. "They're not having their emotional needs met, so they're using and abusing substances."

Russell hopes his study will lead to more attention to sexual identity issues among suicidal teens. "Gay kids are like all kids. The stresses in the their lives are propelling them toward self-destructive behavior," he said. "The reality is that with every kid, not just gay and lesbian kids, one of the biggest challenges of their lives is developing as a healthy sexual person. We don't pay attention to those things when we do other kinds of prevention with teens."

Psychologists and other medical professionals must consider the sexual identities of suicidal teens, he said. "But I question how well the medical profession on the whole is prepared to address the unique issues faced by sexual minority kids."

Remember kids, we all bleed red. Except Smalls, he bleeds marshmellow (I missed you Mike! :)

--Scott J Grunewald
PopImage, Publisher

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