Children Outside Gender Norms At Higher Risk For Abuse; Mental Problems

Two recent studies show that children who display characteristics outside of gender norms or who identify as transgender are more likely to be abused and/or attempt suicide than those who don’t thanks to stereotypes and other factors.

According to The USA Today, a study published online Monday in Pediatrics by the Harvard School of Public Health, children who display non-conforming characteristics before the age of 11 ,”on average, are more likely to experience physical, psychological and sexual abuse and experience post-traumatic stress disorder by early adulthood.”

“Non-conforming girls were at 60% greater risk for sexual abuse than conforming girls, but non-conforming boys were at nearly three times greater risk compared with conforming boys,” reports the paper.

Lead study author Andrea Roberts tells the USA Today,”85% of gender-non-conforming children in the study were heterosexual in adulthood. In childhood, however, those who were not “extremely typical in their gender expression” faced “harmful discrimination and intolerance that has a lasting impact.”

Meanwhile, The Advocate reports in a separate study conducted by the Endocrine Division at Children’s Hospital Boston that “young people who can’t reconcile their gender identity with their physical bodies had high rates of psychiatric complications, especially if they aren’t guided by health professionals.”

“The Children’s Hospital study looked at 97 patients and found 20% self-harmed, while 37% were on psychiatric medications,” reports the magazine.

Discrimination, the lack of insurance coverage for hormones and transgender procedures, “as well as the disconnect between gender identity and the physical self,” are all contributing factors.

According to a 2010 study performed by the National Center for Transgender Equality and The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 41 percent of transgender people have attempted suicide at least once in their lives.


Study: Supportive Families Cut Teen LGBT Suicide Rates

According to a study published yesterday in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, “LGBT youths who have strong support from parents, other family members and friends are less likely to consider suicide if they’re bullied.”

Brian Mustanski, director of Northwestern’s IMPACT program, tells Chicago Tribune Columnist Dawn Turner Rice,”one of the most important ways to protect LGBT youths against thoughts of suicide is to make sure they understand they’re loved and supported by family members and peers.”

The study called Project Q2, began in 2007 with 250 youth, ages 16 to 20. Turner reports that it is, “the longest-running study on LGBT youth ever conducted and examines their mental health, substance use, HIV risk and resilience.”

“We found that in terms of predictors, victimization is a big risk factor that increases the likelihood that a young person would think about suicide,” said Mustanski.

According to the study, “94 percent of LGBT youth are bullied at some point in their teen years.”

Mustanski says,”parents can make a difference. It’s important parents respond with love and acceptance from the moment their child tells them he or she is gay, and that’s true even if parents need time to process the information.”

Read Trice’s full column HERE.

Discrimination Takes its Toll: Children Raised by Same-Gender Couples Twice as Likely to Live in Poverty

According to a new report, “31% of same-sex couples raising children have household income below $50,000 compared to 27% of married heterosexual couple raising children.”

The report, put together by the Movement Advancement Project, the Family Equality Council and the National Association of Social Workers along with several other groups finds, “children living in LGBT families face undue
financial burdens, just because their parents are lesbian or gay.”

However, its authors also point out that,”Despite misleading claims from those who oppose LGBT parenting, more than 30 years of rigorous social science research shows that children raised by LGBT parents are just as happy, healthy and well-adjusted as children raised by heterosexual parents.”

The report points to the lack of legal recognition for LGBT families as a key contributing factor in creating unnecessary financial burdens.

“Those impacted the most are low-income LGBT families, who are also more likely to be families of color, and therefore already facing discrimination and
a separate set of barriers as well. For low-income LGBT families, the additional economic obstacles to protecting and providing for their family can be insurmountable,” say report authors.

Jennifer Chrisler, the executive director of the Family Equality Council tells Metro Weekly, “I think many people have a perception that LGBT people in general and that our families are middle class to upper-middle class, white and affluent. The reality is that our families are more racially and ethnically diverse than the population as a whole,” she said. “Same-sex couples of color raising children are more likely to be poor and there are more LGBT people of color, proportionally, raising kids than Caucasian couples raising kids.”

The report says there is also, unfortunately, a wide gap between LGBTQIA families and their straight counter parts when talking public assistance; medical benefits; food and nutrition; housing; education; jobs and training; energy assistance; and other services, such as child care.

Chrisler tells Metro Weekly, “gay and lesbian couples are most likely to raise children in the South. They’re living in the states that are hardest to keep those families health and strong: the most stigma, the worst laws, the toughest environment.”

The report’s authors estimate that there are currently around 2 million children being raised by 1 million LGBT families in the U.S.

You can download the full report for yourself  HERE.

Read the Metro’s full interview with Chrisler HERE.

It’s National Gay Straight Alliance Day!

While Idaho lawmakers hammer out an anti-bullying bill and Rep. Bob Nonini (R-Post Falls) decides whether or not to introduce his bill that would require parental consent for student participation in school clubs and activities, GSA clubs across the state and around the country are observing  the first ever National Gay Straight Alliance Day!

According to the National GSA Day website,”As of 2011 there were approximately two dozen states that have a state GSA network in some capacity.  A majority of these organizations are completely led by volunteers.  Less than half a dozen have full time paid staff.  Some of the state networks are housed within a larger LGBT organization within their states.”

A study released last fall showed that:

-Students at a school with a GSA were less likely to experience depression and more likely to have higher self-esteem.

-Students at a school with a GSA were less likely to drop out and more likely to succeed in higher education.

-Participation in a GSA was associated with fewer problems with substance abuse, depression, and lifetime suicide attempts.

-Having a perception that a GSA effectively promoted school safety was associated with less depression, fewer problems with substance abuse, and greater college  attainment.

The National GSA  Day website recommends adults use the day to acknowledge the courage and bravery of students involved in making their schools safer for LGBTQIA students.

It also suggests using your Facebook page, blog or Twitter account to tell the world about how important it is for LGBT and allied people to come together to fight homophobia, transphobia, bigotry and hate. Mentioning that you’re a parent or family member, teacher, counselor, school or college administrator or school board member will be powerful and you can be as creative or simple as you want!!



For more information on forming a GSA in your school contact the Idaho Safe Schools Coalition or shoot an email to  To learn more visit

Latest Teen Suicide underscores need for Idaho’s Anti-Bullying Bill

14-year-old Phillip Parker,”was known as the boy who told everyone they’re beautiful. ” The Gordonsville, Tennessee teen, who was openly gay, took his life last Friday afternoon.

The boy’s grandfather, Paul Harris, told News Channel 5-TV over the weekend that,”After he did what he did, we found out a lot that we didn’t know and there is a lot of bullying that goes on at the school.”

WSMV.COM reports that,”Phillip’s family said they reported their concerns over their son’s bullying to Gordonsville High School on multiple occasions, but the bullying by a group of students just got worse.”

Now the Parkers are seeking answers from school leaders who apparently did little to stop the harassment.

Sadly, the news of Parker’s death swept through the LGBTQIA media on Monday which also marked the kick off to No Name-Calling Week.

According to the Gay, Lesbian and  Straight Education Network (GLSEN), No Name-Calling Week was inspired by a young adult novel entitled “The Misfits” by popular author, James Howe. The book tells the story of four best friends trying to survive the seventh grade in the face of all too frequent taunts based on their weight, height, intelligence, and sexual orientation/gender expression.

“The project seeks to focus national attention on the problem of name-calling in schools, and to provide students and educators with the tools and inspiration to launch an ongoing dialogue about ways to eliminate name-calling in their communities,” says a website devoted to the week.

Parker is the third  known gay teen in the U.S. to take his life due to bullying and harassment in less than a month.

Particularly disturbing in his case was the apparent lack of  school intervention.  According to groups like GLSEN, many schools may be unfamiliar with the resources available to educators to help combat the bullying epidemic.

According to a study released last week, more than 75% of students in the 3rd to 6th grade report that students at their school are called names, made fun of or bullied with at least some regularity.

Here in Idaho, a bill that would require school officials to intervene in cases of student harassment and bullying was introduced to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week.

The bill, presented by the The Suicide Prevention Action Network of Idaho, would require individual schools to set specific policies for dealing with which a student  harasses, intimidates or bullies their classmates.

(If you or someone you know needs help or is considering suicide you owe it to yourself to visit The Trevor Project’s website or call them at 1-866-488-7386. In the U.S. you can also call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or visit stopbullying.govYou can also visit Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) website for more resources.)

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