Lesbian, Gay, Bi-, Transgendered
LGBT-Terms to Know -opens in PDF format
Adolescence can be a turbulent time for all youth, but for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) children and youth it can be especially challenging. The stigma and discrimination queer youth experience often negatively impacts their emotional, sexual, social, and academic development. LGBTQ youth regularly face bullying and harassment in their schools, communities, and possibly even in their homes. Anti-queer terms like “fag,” “dyke,” “faggot,” and the use of the word “gay” to mean “stupid” are heard in many school hallways and classrooms and in the community in public spaces and events.
Repeated exposure to this type of discrimination can lead to a decrease in academic performance and school attendance as well as to mental health problems like depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and suicide. Queer youth show a greater incidence of these mental health problems when compared to their heterosexual peers and also have higher suicide rates. For example, recent studies show suicide attempt rates are 20-40% higher among LGBTQ youth than heterosexual youth (see Mental Health Risk Factors for LGBTQ Youth). For these reasons, it is imperative that parents, school personnel, and other child serving professionals are familar with and understanding of the unique experiences of LGBTQ youth.