The study is based on a 2010 survey of nearly 28,000 students in grades eight, 10 and 12. Among boys, 14 percent of eighth-graders, 11 percent of 10th-graders and 9 percent of 12th-graders reported being bullied within the previous month because they were thought to be gay. The numbers were 11 percent, 10 percent and 6 percent, respectively, for girls.
The survey defined bullying based on sexual orientation as being "bullied, harassed or intimidated at school" because they were thought to be gay or bisexual. It defined other types of bullying as when one or more students "say or do nasty or unpleasant things" to another person or tease someone "repeatedly in a way he or she finds offensive." In most cases, more students reported being bullied for other reasons.
Compared to kids bullied for other reasons or not bullied at all, those targeted because they were perceived to be gay were much more likely to have considered suicide in the past year, to have been depressed in the past year and to say they don't feel good about themselves.
For example, 26 percent of male 12th-graders targeted for being perceived as gay said they had been suicidal within the past year, compared to 8 percent of those not bullied. The rate also was more than three times greater for female seniors.
Brian Mustanski, an associate professor in the department of medical social sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, said the survey has some strengths but fails to ask whether those bullied are actually gay and not just perceived to be.
"Because of this, it is a major underestimate of the rate of bullying among gay youth," he said.
Mustanski agreed with Patrick that teachers and school leaders need to promote comfortable and safe environments. "While family and peer support have important positive effects for gay youth and redu
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