A troubling report in Pediatrics confirms what you may already suspect: gay teens attempt suicide more often in politically conservative areas where schools don't have programs supporting gay rights.
Columbia University psychologist Mark Hatzenbuehler based his research on a recent study of 32,000 11th-graders in Oregon, as well as other data on voter registration, same-sex couples, schools with gay-straight alliances, and schools with policies against bullying gay students, according to the Associated Press. Using the number of registered Democrats as an indicator of a more liberal environment, he found that in counties that had the lowest social index scores, gay, lesbian, and bisexual teens were 20% more likely to have attempted suicide than in counties with the highest scores. 25% of gay teens in the conservative counties had attempted suicide, compared to 20% in the more liberal counties.
The results were similar for straight students. Suicide attempts by heterosexual teens were 9% more common in more conservative counties. Overall, 4% of straight kids said they had tried suicide. Hatzenbuehler said this suggests, "environments that are good for gay youth are also healthy for heterosexual youth."
While other researchers said they weren't surprised by the findings in the report, they added that it's important because there's a lack of research on gay health issues. At the very least it proves that efforts to discriminate against LGBT youth, like the Tennessee bill that would ban the mere mention of homosexuality in schools, aren't just morally wrong; They contribute to an atmosphere that puts children's lives at risk.
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