LGBT youth lack support

The news: A March study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, based on experiences of 246 lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth around Chicago, found that low social support and victimization among LGBT youth contribute to the higher risk of suicidal thoughts and self-harm.

Behind the news: In Chicago Public Schools, Gay-Straight Alliance, an extracurricular club aimed at promoting a safe academic environment for LGBT students, is more likely to be found in high schools with a higher percentage of white students.

Of the 157 CPS schools serving grades 9 and above, 20 are more than 10 percent white, and 13 of them—or 65 percent—have a Gay Straight Alliance, while only 20 percent of the remaining schools do, according to the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance.

David Fischer, program manager for the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, said this could be because underfunded schools, many in minority communities, don’t have enough resources to start and sustain the club.

Brian Mustanski, co-author of the March study and professor of medical social science at Northwestern University, said that racial minorities may be more likely to experience LGBT-related victimization, which would increase their need for support.

“When we talk about social support, we’re really talking about a person saying that they have someone to turn to when they’re having a rough time, that there’s somebody looking out for them,” he said.

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