Emotional Stress.

The Influence of Perceived Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation


There is increasing evidence that adolescents that are attracted to people of the same sex or have romantic relationships with people of the same sex. Also, those that identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual have a higher likelihood of showing signs of emotional distress, including depression, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts

A YRBS (Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance) data in Washington, D.C. from 2007 suggests that 40% of the generation of youth that claimed to be a part of the minority sexual orientation (LGBT) indicated that they felt hopeless or sad, in comparison to 26% of the majority sexual orientation group (heterosexual). The same data also showed that bisexual, gay, and lesbian youths have two times more likely as heterosexual youth to consider suicide attempts. The percentages were 31% to 14%. This is in line with other smaller research bodies suggesting that younger people who identify as transsexual or transgender also have to go through increasing emotional distress.

Bisexual, gay, and lesbian youths are two times more likely as heterosexual youth to consider suicide attempts. The percentages were 31% to 14%.

One study was released in the essay paper platform, which was based on a small sample comprising 55 transgender youth between the age of 15 and 21 years. The researchers found that one-fourth of this sample have reported attempted suicide at some point. Those transgender youth that reported suicide attributed the urge to kill themselves to be transgender. However, there is little research on LGBT adolescents from the larger samples based on population, such as YRBS surveys, because they do not ask questions that will help them identify transgender youth.

Reasons for the higher number of emotional distress among LGBT youth

Several explanations can fit in as the reason for higher emotional distress among the LGBT community. One of these is the stigmatization that comes with their sexual identity or orientation. However, there is no doubt that LGBT issues are more accepted and discussed more publicly and in some popular cultures than before. There is also a more positive perception and a favorable attitude towards sexual relationships involving the same sex. However, there is still some way to go for general acceptance as LGBT people still experience social stigmatization based on their homosexuality and what we termed as a deviation from gender-specific roles prescribed by society. This is a much bigger problem than it looks because they channel most of this stigmatization at the younger LGBT generations.

They have carried out efforts carried ensure that LGBT youth enjoy as much support as they need. Some of these are the development of policies to support them, and the establishment of student groups, a typical example being Gay-Straight Alliances. However, the LGBT youths still suffer some difficulties that they are not meant to, especially in comparison to non-transgendered or heterosexual classmates.

Another probable cause has to do with the fact that LGBT youths live in environments where they are likely to be exposed to negative experiences. Some of these experiences include isolation, social rejection, discrimination, diminished social support, and physical and verbal abuse. It is common among the youths and younger generations for those considered the weak or minority to be bullied, physically victimized, and preyed upon. The sexual orientation of the LGBT and the fact that they are of the minority make them a prime target of bullying and victimization. To put this in clear terms, there is a higher chance for LGBT youths to be assaulted physically (and maybe sexually) and bullying than the heterosexual and non-transgendered counterparts. And most of this victimization and bullying are based on their sexual orientation and usually have a robust anti-homosexual tone.

According to YRBS data, 31% of minority youth or LGBT reports that they get bullied a lot. This is in stark contrast to the 17% of heterosexual youth that they bullied as well. This has caused many LGBT to walk or live unchecked or feel insecure, thereby increasing the emotional distress among the LGBT community. Another data from YRB, Massachusetts, suggests that almost half of the LGBT youth community experiences thoughts their personal property being intentionally stolen or damaged because of their minority sexual orientation. To be clear, only 29% of heterosexual and no-transgender youth experience the loss or damage to their property in this context.

There are now series of research to support the claim that the negative experiences of stigmatization against the LGBT group are capable of leading to chronic stress, which is a significant contributor to emotional distress in both the young and old of the LGBT group. Most of these researches focus on the consequences of stressors on LGBT youth mental health. While they did this research with a minimal community-based convenience LGBT youth samples, they found that supporting one association between stressors is associated with poor mental health and being LGBT. For example, studies that were carried out based on two communities comprising of more than 500 bisexual, gay, and lesbian youth. The researchers found out that there is a secure link between the mental health problems of LGBTs and a lifetime of victimization simply because of their minority sexual orientation (e.g., physical assault, threats of violence, verbal abuse, and sexual assault). It is also worth pointing out that these studies also pointed out that they victimize males more for their different sexual orientation than females.

Although it is not as common, there is information from school-based studies as well. The participants of these studies weren’t selected based on their sexual orientation. But one of the school-based studies reported that 24% of gay and bisexual males and 10% of lesbian and bisexual females report more school victimization than 3% of heterosexual males and 1% of heterosexual females.

The lack of social support that the LGBT youth experience and their victimization and stigmatization contribute greatly to their emotional distress. This is the reason for a higher rate of suicide thoughts and attempts within the LGBT community than heterosexual people.

Ashley Simmons

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