Study: It Gets Better, Gay Bullying Decreases Over Time
Gay blogger and activist Dan Savage was right when he decided to share on YouTube his story of growing up gay: it does get better.
A new study published in the medical journal Pediatrics has found that gay bullying decreases as teens get older.
British researchers Joseph Robinson and Dorothy Espelage and Ian Rivers followed the progress of over 4,000 English teens every year, from 2004 to 2010.
Results showed that at least 87 percent of gay, lesbian and bisexual teens between the ages of 13 to 14 were bullied. But when the teens where interviewed again at ages 19 and 20 only 6 percent of lesbian and bisexual girls and 9 percent of gay and bisexual boys reported being bullied.
"Our research provides strong evidence that it gets better, and yet, there is still room for improvement," Robinson told Windy City Times.
Robinson also clarified that while the study took place in England, similar results would be expected in the U.S.
"It's highly probable that we would see similar patterns in the U.S. Our hypothesis about the different trends among males and females was based on prior research [mainly conducted in the US]," he said.
He said the study also found a direct link between gay bullying and higher risks of suicide.
"We find that bullying during high school is related to emotional distress during young adulthood, which suggests we should focus on reducing bullying early on because these experiences during high school can have lasting consequences," he said.
Even though Savage started the It Gets Better Project in 2010, the researchers believe it already has had a positive impact on the lives of bullied kids, helping to change perceptions and gain acceptance for gay teens.
"Since 2010 the 'It Gets Better' project has started, same-sex marriage has become legal in several additional states, and the gay rights movement has picked up additional momentum. So I would expect to see more of an effect of the gay-rights movement on anti-gay bullying after 2010," Robinson said.