Gay and Lesbian Youth

Gay and lesbian youth at risk

Patricia Cloud Duttweiler
The Journal of At-Risk Issues, Volume 3, Number 2
(Winter/Spring 1997)

Jamie Nabozny dropped out of school in the 11th grade after suffering from repeated humiliation and physical attacks. After one especially degrading incident, Jamie complained to the principal. Jamie was told, “Well, you know, Jamie, boys will be boys. And if you’re going to be so openly gay, you have to expect that kind of stuff.”

On November 19, 1996, Jamie Nabozny won the first ever federal court judgment (for nearly one million dollars) against school administrators for failing to provide equal protection for a gay student suffering from violence within the school (Price, 1996).

The following facts and references (with the exception of the Price reference) came from a publication, Just the facts on gay, lesbian, and bisexual students and schools, of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Teachers Network (GLSTN), 122 W. 26th Street, Suite 1100, New York, NY 10001 (212-727-0135).

  • 53% of students reported hearing homophobic comments made by school staff (Report of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth, 1993).
  • 80% of prospective teachers reported negative attitudes toward gay and lesbian people (Sears, 1992).
  • 66% of guidance counselors harbored negative feelings toward gay and lesbian people (Sears, 1992).
  • 34% of self-identified gay or bisexual teenagers are the targets of anti-gay harassment or violence at or on their way to school (Price, 1996).
  • “Homosexuals are probably the most frequent victims [of hate crimes]” (U.S. Department of Justice, 1987).
  • 80% of gay and lesbian youth reported feeling severe social isolation (Hetrick & Damien, 1987).
  • 30% of gay and bisexual adolescent males attempt suicide at least once (Remafedi, 1991).
  • Gay and lesbian youth represent 30% of all completed teen suicides (Gibson, 1989).


  • Gibson, P. (1989). U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Task Force on Youth Suicide Report.
  • Hetrick, E., & Damien, M. A. (1987). Developmental issues and their resolution for gay and lesbian adolescents. Journal of Homosexuality.
  • Price, D. (1996, Nov. 11). Ignoring safety of gay students can carry a high price. The Detroit News.
  • Remafedi, G. (1991). Risk factors for attempted suicide in gay and bisexual youth. Pediatrics.
  • Report of the Massachusetts Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth. (1993). Making schools safe for gay and lesbian youth.
  • Sears, J. (1992). Educators, homosexuality, and homosexual students: Are personal feelings related to professional beliefs? In K. Harbeck (ed.), Coming out of the classroom closet. New York: Harrington Park Press.
  • U.S. Department of Justice. (1987). The response of the criminal justice system to bias crime: An exploratory view.
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