Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth who experience high levels of bullying in middle and high school report impaired health in young adulthood, according to a new study.
The damage includes conditions like depression, suicide attempts that require medical care, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and risk for HIV.
The study lays emphasis on addressing and preventing anti-LGBT victimization at the structural or school level to reduce health disparities among LGBT young people.
Researchers have found that LGBT young adults who were victimized in school because of their identity reported much higher health and adjustment problems compared to their peers with lower levels of victimisation.
The LGBT students reportedly displayed lower self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults.
"We now have evidence of the lasting personal and social cost of failing to make our schools safe for all students. Prior studies have shown that school victimization of LGBT adolescents affects their health and mental health," said Stephen T. Russell, lead author and Distinguished Professor, University of Arizona.
"In our study we see the effects of school victimization up to a decade later or more. It is clear that there are public health costs to LGBT-based bullying over the long-term," he added.
The study reveals that gay and bisexual males and transgender young adults reported higher levels of LGBT school victimization than lesbian and bisexual young women.
"This new study provides compelling evidence that negative environments pose long-term health and mental health risks for LGBT youth. The Family Acceptance Project's growing body of research is building a solid foundation to develop preventive interventions to deal with the harmful effects of anti-LGBT environments on young people in their families, schools and communities," said Ann P. Haas, Director of Prevention Projects for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The study is published in the Journal of School Health, the journal of the American School Health Association.