The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) released a new study concluding that LGBT youth suffer cyber-bullying and harassment three times more than their heterosexual youth counterparts.
“LGBT youth continue to face extraordinary obstacles in their day-to-day lives whether at school or online, but the Internet can be a valuable source of information and support when they have no one or nowhere else left to turn to,” GLSEN’s executive director Dr. Eliza Byard said in a press release. “As social media evolve, so must our efforts to serve LGBT youth to ensure their safety, health and well-being.”
Entitled “Out Online: The Experiences of LGBT Youth On The Internet,” the survey discovered that “26 percent of LGBT youth said they had been bullied online specifically because of their sexual orientation or gender expression in the past year” as well as 18 percent undergoing harassment and bullying through text message.
Although the results are alarming, with 27 percent feeling unsafe online, GLSEN discovered that there is hope, as the internet also proves crucial in the development of LGBT youths.
“[The internet] also offers LGBT youth critical tools for coping with these negative experiences, including access to understanding and accepting friends, and exposure to health information that is unavailable elsewhere,” said Center for Innovative Public Health Research’s president and research director DR. Michele Ybarra in a press release.
The study found that 63 percent of LGBT youths utilize the internet to connect with similar LGBT peers, and that 50 percent have a close friend online. In comparison, only 19 percent of their heterosexual counterparts reported having one or more close friends online.
Considered a precedent in “in-depth look at the online experiences of LGBT youth,” GLSEN interviewed 5,680 students in grades from six to twelve.