A new survey released Thursday, sponsored by the National Mental Health Association, shows that although harassment toward gay teens and teens who are perceived to be gay is widespread in America's schools, most students say they disapprove of antigay harrassment.
More than three quarters of teens (78%) report that kids who are gay or thought to be gay are teased or bullied in their schools and communities. Nine out of ten (93%) said they hear other kids at school or in their neighborhood use words like "fag," "homo," "dyke," "queer," or "gay" at least once in a while, with 51% hearing them every day. Yet four out of five respondents said they disapprove of the taunting.
NMHA has launched a nationwide program called "What Does Gay Mean?" to help parents talk to their kids about such prejudice. "Parents need to know that, gay or straight, their teens may face antigay bullying," said Michael Faenza, NMHA president and CEO.
"Bullying is unacceptable in any form. When bullied, gay youth and those thought to be gay face an increased risk for depression, anxiety disorders, school failure, and suicide, especially when they don't have a system of support. Schools, community groups, and parents share the responsibility of preventing and stopping this prejudice."
The NMHA survey was conducted by International Communications Research of Media, Penn. ICR completed telephone interviews with a nationally representative sample of 760 kids ages 12-17 about their experience with and opinions about antigay teasing and bullying in their schools and neighborhoods.