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Report: LGBT youth face higher rate of dating abuse than straight peers

Friday, September 6, 2013
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LGBT teenagers are at much greater risk of dating abuse than their heterosexual counterparts, with transgender teens especially vulnerable to victimization, according to a report issued Friday by the Urban Institute.

“Dating Violence Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth” is one of the first examinations of dating violence and abuse through the distinct lens of sexual orientation and of gender identity.

According to the report, victims are more likely to be females or transgender youth who are also more likely to be depressed, have lower grades, have committed delinquent acts, and to have a history of sexual activity.

The report is based on a survey of 3,745 youth in 7th to 12th grades, in New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Six percent identified as LGBT, the rest as heterosexual.

Of the LGB respondents,

  • 43 percent reported being victims of physical dating violence, compared to 29 percent of heterosexual youth;
  • 59 percent reported emotional abuse, compared to 46 percent of heterosexual youth;
  • 37 percent reported digital abuse and harassment, compared to 26 percent of heterosexual youth; and
  • 23 percent reported sexual coercion, compared to 12 percent of heterosexual youth.

“Given such high rates of victimization, helping these young people is especially important since teen dating violence can be a stepping stone toward adult intimate partner violence,” said Meredith Dank, a senior research associate in the Institute’s Justice Policy Center and one of the study’s lead authors.

Although a small number, the 18 transgender youth surveyed had the highest rates of victimization: 89 percent reported physical dating violence, 61 percent were sexually coerced, 59 percent experienced emotional abuse, and 56 percent recorded digital abuse and harassment.

The Urban Institute, based in Washington D.C., is a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy research and educational organization that examines the social, economic, and governance challenges facing the nation.

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