A majority of queer youth feel hopeful despite widespread bullying & stress

A sad, queer-presenting student with red hair resting their chin on a textbook
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Nearly half of all LGBTQ+ youth feel unsafe in school settings, and over half said they had been bullied due to their queer identities, a new report from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) found.

But even though over half of queer respondents also showed signs of anxiety and depression, majorities of LGBTQ+ youth have also come out to their families and feel hopeful for the future nonetheless.

The HRC’s 2023 LGBTQ+ Youth Report surveyed over 13,000 LGBTQ+ youth between the ages of 13 and 17, from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Approximately 54% of transgender and gender-expansive youth and 46% of LGBQ+ youth surveyed said that they felt unsafe in at least one school setting. Nearly 60% of all LGBTQ+ youth said that they had been “teased, bullied, or treated badly” at school over their LGBTQ+ identities.

Only one in five LGBTQ+ youth reported school bullying to a school staff member. While 23.3% of these kids said the adult “didn’t help me at all,” 20.0% said the adult “helped me a lot.”

Additionally, 55.1% of survey respondents screened positive for depression, 63.5% screened positive for depression, and 64.7% rated their ability to manage stress as “fair” or “poor.” These rates were on average five points higher for transgender and gender-expansive youth. 48.9% of LGBTQ+ youth had received therapy in the prior year.

The HRC noted that these findings have likely been affected by the spike in anti-LGBTQ+ legislation nationwide. During the most recent legislative session, 10 have passed transphobic “bathroom bills,” 23 states have passed transphobic “sports bans,” six have passed “forced outing” bills requiring schools to out trans and gender-expansive youth to their parents, and six have passed “Don’t Say LGBTQ+” bills banning queer content from classrooms.

Despite this, 90.3% of LGBTQ+ youth said they were proud to be part of the LGBTQ+ community, and nearly 83% of queer youth said that they had come out to at least one member of their immediate family.

Trans and gender-expansive youth who feel free to express their gender identity around their families and those whose family members use their correct pronouns and names also reported the lowest levels of depression and anxiety among trans and gender-expansive youth.

Additionally, 56.8% of LGBTQ+ youth said they somewhat or strongly agree that “the LGBTQ+ community is accepted more and more every day.”

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat at The Trans Lifeline (1-877-565-8860) is staffed by trans people and will not contact law enforcement. The Trevor Project provides a safe, judgement-free place to talk for youth via chat, text (678-678), or phone (1-866-488-7386). Help is available at all three resources in English and Spanish.

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