How Are LGBT Youth Affected by Discrimination and What Can Schools Do to Help?

This essay shows how discrimination leads to increased high school drop out rates for LGBT youths and, of greater concern, increased rates of suicide and substance abuse.

Gaell Jocelyn-Blackman


In this paper, I will discuss the different types of discrimination that LGBT youths are faced with and the effects on these youths. The paper will elaborate on the severe impacts on LGBT youths not only caused by discrimination but also due to lack of support and guidance. The paper will also discuss the roles of the parents and schools in helping minimize discrimination against LGBT youths. This paper will also hopefully instruct schools and parents to accept and support gay students rather than add to the discrimination that they already face. Doing so will reduce the high school drop out rate and most importantly the youth suicide rate. In essence, the purpose of this research paper is to identify the different effects on LGBT youths due to discrimination and to explore various actions that can and should be taken by schools and parents to help these youths live a normal and happy life. Therefore, my target audience is the school system as well as the parents of LGBT youths.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among gay and lesbian youths. Gay and lesbian youths are 2 to 6 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth. Over 30% of all reported teen suicides each year are committed by gay and lesbian youths. . . . Gays and lesbians are at much higher risk than the heterosexual population for alcohol and drug abuse. Approximately 30% of both the lesbian and gay male populations have problems with alcohol. Gay and lesbian youth are at greater risk for school failure than heterosexual children. (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)

Substantially higher proportions of homosexual people use alcohol, marijuana or cocaine than is the case in the general population. (McKirnan & Peterson, 1989, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)

Approximately 28% of gay and lesbian youths drop out of high school because of discomfort (due to verbal and physical abuse) in the school environment. (Remafedi, 1987, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)

Gay and lesbian youths’ discomfort stems from fear of name calling and physical harm. (Eversole, n.d, as cited in “Today’s Gay Youth,” n.d., n.p.)