The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) yesterday released the first-ever national report focusing in-depth on the experiences of LGBT youth online.
Out Online: The Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet surveyed more than 5,600 students from 6th to 12th grade about their online experiences with bullying and, in contrast, finding supportive communities. The results affirmed the longstanding fact that LGBT youth face greater harassment on and offline than non-LGBT students, but the report had some positive findings too.
From GLSEN’s press release about the study:
Out Online reveals that LGBT youth were more likely than non-LGBT youth to be bullied or harassed online (42% vs. 15%) and twice as likely to say they had been bullied via text message (27% vs. 13%). Survey respondents also reported they were as likely to report not feeling safe online (27%) as they were at school (30%) and while traveling to and from school (29%). Online victimization contributed to negative self-esteem and higher depression Youth who experienced bullying and harassment both in person as well as online or via text message reported lower grade point averages, lower self-esteem and higher levels of depression than youth who were bullied only in person, only online or via text message, or not at all. …
Despite experiences of bullying and harassment online, LGBT youth indicated the Internet is also a space that offers safer opportunities to express who they are, find peer support and gain access to resources not necessarily available in person. LGBT youth were more likely to have searched for health and medical information compared to non-LGBT youth (81% vs. 46%), and half (50%) reported having at least one close online friend, compared to only 19% of non-LGBT youth.
LGBT youth reported high rates of civic engagement online as well. A majority of LGBT youth reported having taken part in an online community that supports a cause or issue (77%), promoted a cause or issue (76%), written a blog or posted comments on another blog about a cause or issue (68%), and used the Internet to participate in or recruit people for an event or activity (51%) in the past year.
Hey, you know what? When it comes to all the positive interactions, activism and support that LGBT youth find online, I’m pretty sure Tumblr is a big part of that. Way to go, friends. Let’s work harder on making the Internet (and the rest of the world) a safe place for those of us who don’t have such supportive resources available.