Understanding and Acceptance Key in LGBT Teens
Decoded Science asked Dr. Mustanski if he had plans to examine younger LGBT subjects. He stated,
It is very difficult to conduct research on LGBT youth younger than age 16 because of difficulties in getting ethics board approval (AKA IRB) and recruiting a large enough sample. Our sample is one of the youngest published. I suspect this will begin change as more and more young people come out at younger ages. We are in the early stages of planning a study that would involve much young participants. Some school-based studies (such as the YRBS) have included participants as young as 14, but those are studies of entire schools rather than focused specifically on LGBT youth.
Asked what parents and teachers should learn from this study, Dr. Mustanski replied,
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among American adolescents and prior research suggests LGBT youth are 2-7 times more likely to report making a suicide attempt.
To parents: Love your children unconditionally and let them know that you are accepting and a resource for them as they navigate their development into adults. To teachers: Set a tone that shows diversity is valued and bias, discrimination, and bullying will not be accepted.
Dr. Mustanski’s research has unlocked the key to reducing the suicide rate amongst LGBT teens. By simply understanding and accepting children as individuals, parents and teachers can help reduce feelings of loneliness and alienation. Teens are less likely to engage in suicidal thoughts, actions, and self-inflicted wounds when positive engagement is present.
To learn more about LGBT youth programs and awareness, Dr. Mustanski recommends the resources available at the Impact Program.
Mustanski, B. & Liu, R. (2012.) Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Accessed February 14, 2012.
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