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Landmark HRC study finds major disparities between LGBT and straight youth

WASHINGTON – A groundbreaking study of LGBT-identified young people and a corollary study of straight teens shows tremendous disparities between the two groups, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

With more than 10,000 respondents ages 13-17, “Growing Up LGBT in America” is the largest known survey of LGBT teens and shows how critical the work of achieving equality is for future generations.

Among the report’s key findings:

• Over one-half of LGBT youth (54%) say they have been verbally harassed and called names involving anti-gay slurs;

• Nearly half of LGBT youth (47%) say they do not “fit in” in their community while only 16% of non-LGBT youth feel that way;

• 67% of straight youth describe themselves as happy but this number drops to 37% among LGBT young people;

• 83% of LGBT youth believe they will be happy eventually, but only 49% believe they can be happy if they stay in the same city or town;

• 6 in 10 LGBT youth say their family is accepting of LGBT people, while a third say their family is not;

• 92% say they hear negative messages about being LGBT – 60% say those messages come from elected leaders.

• When asked to describe their most important problem, straight teens articulated the usual challenges of grades and college and finances. On the other hand LGBT teens’ worries were directly related to their identity as LGBT including non-accepting families and bullying.

“No one would say that growing up LGBT is easy, but this survey is a stark wake-up call to the daily toll that discrimination takes on vulnerable young people,” said new HRC President Chad Griffin (pictured at left), who begins his tenure by releasing this survey. “We have a responsibility to change that, because we know all too well that there are real life consequences to inaction.”

The first in a series of efforts to analyze the landscape for LGBT youth, the report summarizes the major findings from a general analysis of all survey responses. Over the next several months, HRC will be engaging in additional analysis that will provide a better understanding of the unique experiences of specific groups of youth, for example transgender youth, those of different races, religious traditions, etc.

“We applaud the Human Rights Campaign for shining a spotlight on this vulnerable group of teens,” said Christine James-Brown, CEO of the Child Welfare League of America. “We look forward to collaborating with HRC on policy and educational initiatives to address the compelling needs and concerns of the thousands of LGBT youth who responded to this survey.”

About Chad Griffin

Chad Griffin begins as the new president of the Human Rights Campaign. Previously the founding partner of strategic communications and campaign firm, Griffin|Schein, Griffin has taken on entrenched, well-financed interests like Big Tobacco, Big Oil and the Far Right, and shaped national policy debates around equal rights, clean energy, universal health care, stem cell research and early childhood education.

Griffin has also led groundbreaking ballot initiative campaigns including the largest ballot initiative ever recorded, Proposition 87: California’s Clean Alternative Energy Initiative; the Proposition 10 campaign, which has generated $7 billion for early childhood education; and Proposition 71, which secured $3 billion for stem cell research despite the Bush Administration ban.

Griffin is a founding board member of the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER), the sole sponsor of the Proposition 8 lawsuit. He is personally responsible for recruiting the legal dream team of Theodore Olson and David Boies to successfully argue the case. A veteran of the Clinton White House communications team and a native of Arkansas, Griffin was highly motivated by young people in taking this new endeavor.