Entries in Gay Teens (4)


Milwaukee Public Middle School a Haven for Gay Youth

ABC News(MILWAUKEE) -- It's literally dangerous to be young and coming out of the closet.  Transgendered kids suffer a high rate of homicide.  And more and more gay teenagers are committing suicide because they were bullied for it.

Last month, 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer took his own life after being bullied at school for being gay.  His death has sparked a national debate about how to stop bullying in schools.  Rodemeyer's idol, Lady Gaga, even asked President Obama to make bullying a hate crime.  But is passing a law really the answer?

One all-American city may have already come up with a unique solution.  Milwaukee is home to the first public middle school where coming out of the closet is accepted, even if you're in the sixth grade.

Fourteen-year-old Emiliano Luna was one of The Alliance School's youngest openly gay students.

"You can truly be yourself here, without having to worry about being picked on or threatened or beat up," he said.

Respect and risk-taking are other key lessons in a class at the school known as Life Skills.  Fifteen-year-old Robbie said he took a big risk coming out to his parents so young.

"They respect it. They don't get it, but they respect it," he said, adding that it was a risk worth taking.

Alicia Moore, a teacher at Alliance, said Robbie found a safe haven there: "Robbie, early on in the school year, came to school with a black eye.  I said, 'Robbie, what happened?'  He said, 'not everyone is as nice as they are here.'"

The school has made efforts to make every student feel comfortable inside and outside of the classroom.

"This is the unisex middle school bathroom," said 16-year-old Becca Dybao, while proudly giving ABC News a tour of her school.  "We do this so students can feel if they want to be a tranny, they can be a female."

A bathroom for kids who are transgendered might be seen as controversial, but students and parents feel that it's a life-saver for kids who are bullied every day.

The Alliance School has had its share of critics and setbacks.  When the school faced the possibility of losing its charter, lead teacher Tina Owen said the school was "life or death for some of these kids."  Students from the school pleaded in front of their local school board to keep Alliance open.

The board agreed to keep the school open for at least three more years amid cheers and applause from students and teachers.  It's a victory for kids like Emiliano, who, like Jamie Rodemeyer, adores Lady Gaga.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Homosexual Teens More Likely to Engage in Risky Behavior

Dynamic Graphics/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A high school student's sexual orientation may indicate whether or not the teenager is more likely to engage in risky behavior, according to a study released Monday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Analyzing data from students in grades nine through 12 between 2001 and 2009, researchers found that teens who reported being gay, lesbian, or bisexual were more likely than their heterosexual classmates to put themselves in harm's way, taking part in more than half of the 10 health risk categories the CDC measured.

Specifically, gay or lesbian students were more likely to engage in risky behaviors listed under seven of the 10 categories -- behaviors that contribute to violence, behaviors related to attempted suicide, tobacco use, alcohol use, other drug use, sexual behaviors, and weight management.

Bisexual students were also more likely than their heterosexual counterparts to engage in behaviors listed under the same seven categories as gay and lesbian students, with the addition of one category -- behaviors that contribute to unintentional injuries.

"This report should be a wake-up call for families, schools and communities that we need to do a much better job of supporting these young people," said Howell Wechsler, director of the CDC's Division of Adolescent and School Health.  "Any effort to promote adolescent health and safety must take into account the additional stressors these youth experience because of their sexual orientation, such as stigma, discrimination, and victimization."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Study: Social Environment Plays Role in Gay Teens' Suicide Attempts

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The social environment surrounding gay teenagers could play a major role in whether or not they are more likely to attempt suicide, according to a new study published Monday in Pediatrics.

A researcher at Columbia University looked at nearly 32,000 high school students from Oregon and found that gay teens living in a social environment that was more supportive of their sexuality were 25 percent less likely to try to take their own lives than those living in a less supportive environment.

Heterosexual teens were also found to benefit from their surroundings, with those living in a supportive environment having a nine percent lower rate of attempted suicide.

"The results of this study are pretty compelling," said Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar Mark L. Hatzenbuehler, the researcher behind the study.  "When communities support their gay young people, and schools adopt anti-bullying and anti-discrimination policies that specifically protect lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, the risk of attempted suicide by all young people drops, especially for LGB youth."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Family Support for Gay Teens Saves Lives

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The suicide of Billy Lucas and other teens who were harassed for being gay has put the spotlight on bullying, but support at home may be the largest single factor in protecting youths struggling with coming out, researchers say.

Though it may seem obvious, research from San Francisco State shows that support at home can have a protective effect on the mental health of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) youths, bolstering their self-esteem and reducing the likelihood that they will suffer from depression, substance abuse, or become suicidal.

Compared with teens who report high levels of family support, those who report low levels of family rejection are over three times more likely to have suicidal thoughts and to attempt suicide. Those who report high levels of family rejection are 8.4 times more likely to have attempted suicide.

"We need to help parents learn to not just help their child survive, but thrive," says Caitlin Ryan, lead author on the study and director of the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio 

ABC News Radio