Posted by: Catherine Lugg | April 19, 2011

For Queer Youth, the Social and Political Contexts matter

Yesterday, a study by Mark Hatzenbuehler at Columbia University was released by Pediatrics. Hatzenbuehler’s study examined rates of depression and suicidal ideation in Oregon queer youth. According to the reporting from The Advocate:

Gay and bisexual youth who live in areas with a higher proportion of same-sex couples and schools with gay-supportive policies are less likely to attempt suicide than those living in more conservative areas, according to a new study.

The study of 32,000 Oregon high school students, published Monday in the journal Pediatrics, found that lesbian, gay, and bisexual teens are five times more likely to commit suicide than their straight peers.

But LGB youth who went to schools that have gay-straight alliances and antidiscrimination policies inclusive of sexual orientation were less at risk….

LGB teens who lived in counties with lower social environment scores had a 22% higher rate of suicide attempts than those living in areas with higher scores.

To be blunt, it’s the hateful environment that drives Queer youth to suicide–not their identities as some professional homophobes are wont to allege (no, I’m not linking to that crap). It is this basic: If Queer Youth attend hateful public schools, and/or live in hateful counties, they’re at greater risk of suicide, period. By contrast, if they attend Queer Affirming public schools and/or live in affirming counties, the risk goes down. This means there are tangible steps that states, school districts, and public school educators can take to reduce the suicide rate (Establish GSAs, pass civil rights protections, queer the curriculum, ensure it’s safe for queer school workers, etc.).

Given these new data, I wonder if AERA will finally get off the dime and take a strong stance in support of our queer youth?

Stay tuned…..



  1. And speaking of hostile environments, please check out the NYTimes story:

  2. […] Catherine at Thinking Queerly has some thoughts on who should be listening… […]

  3. […] I mean) EVEN MORE hateful towards queer people to appeal to her fanatical political base. But the research demonstrates that the more hostile the environment for queers, and queer kids in particular, the higher the […]

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