A new study has found that coming out in high school is associated with improved health benefits. Coming out is one of the hardest things LGBT teens have to do and even though being LGBT increases the risk of victimization and bullying for teens, the study showed that in the long-term, it is simply better to have come out in high school.
The general outcome of the study is that teens who came out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender during high school, reported much lower levels of depression as young adults. The result was consistent across ethnicities and genders.
The study was published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry and was done by the Stephen Russell, researcher at the University of Arizona and professor of Family and Human Development. Russell analyzed the data that was gathered by the project Family Acceptance, which is a research, intervention, education and policy initiative initiated by the San Francisco State University. The project promotes the well-being of LGBT teens and children.
The Family Acceptance Project surveyed 245 Latino and non-Latino LGBT young adults with the ages between 21 and 25. Russell used the surveys to draw information for the study. After careful examination, Russell found that a vast majority of participants in the survey were bullied in high school because of their sexual orientation, whether they came out or not.
While that piece of information alone could lead people to think that coming out in high school is a negative experience, Russell further noticed that the majority of the participants who were honest about their LGBT identity in high school were reported as having higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults, compared with the teens who did not come out in high school.
Caitlin Ryan, co-author in the study and director of the Family Acceptance Project revealed that LGBT teens who kept their sexual preferences or gender identity secret had a higher risk for developing suicidal behavior, depression and illegal drug use. She said that helping the teens learn about the LGBT identity and disclose it to others promotes overall health and self-esteem.
Russell is of the opinion that the results of his study are going to help educate parents and school officials on how to provide support for LGBT teens.
The thing that’s encouraging is that we’ve found being out is good for you. This is clearly aligned with everything we know about identity. Being able to be who we are is crucial to mental health.
Image Source: KeepCalm-o-Matic