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Bullying of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Young People Drops Over Time

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Over time, bullying subsides for young people who are lesbian, gay, and bisexual, a first-of-its-kind new study of more than 4,100 British young people has found.

The study, published online Monday in the journal Pediatrics, tracked the youths experiences from 8th grade through about age 20 by interviewing them annually. Over the years, they reported a significant drop on being bullied or victimized.

For example, the study says, 57 percent of lesbian or bisexual girls reported to the researchers that they had been bullied, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Brunel University in the United Kingdom. By the last round of interviews, only 6 percent of them reported the same experiences. For gay or bisexual boys, the experiences fell from 52 percent to 9 percent.

Of the 4,135 students in the study, 187 initially identified themselves as lesbian, gay, or bisexual to researchers.

However researchers said that despite the drop in bullying for gay or bisexual boys, these youths were more likely to be bullied in comparison with heterosexual males.

Survey results released late last year by the New York City-based Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network showed that bullying of these students at American schools has dropped.

The researchers concluded that addressing emotional distress and victimization during high school may help substantially reduce the differences in emotional distress that younger lesbian, gay, and bisexual students experience in middle school. They encourage open dialogues about homophobia in school, gay-straight alliances—something the Obama administration has told schools they cannot squelch—and incorporating lesbian, gay, and bisexual issues into the curriculum.

In recent years in the United States, the bullying of all students, and in particular students who are homosexual or maybe perceived that way, has been a focus of the federal education and justice departments. The agencies sued the Anoka-Hennepin district in Minnesota and the Tehachapi district in California, for example, forcing the districts to create more respectful learning environments for all students.

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