Category Archives: Health and Wellness

How School Climate Impacts LGBTQ Youth

A new study from New York University entitled “The Effect of Negative School Climate on Academic Outcomes for LGBT Youth and the Role of In-School Supports shows what many of us suspected:  That LGBT students have better grades, attend school more and have better self esteem when the school climate is better.  As Journalists Resource reports, the aspect that most predicted positive, healthy outcomes for LGBT youth in schools were supportive teachers and administrators.  Other predictors of good outcomes were having access to a Gay-Straight Alliance, and a curriculum that included positive images of LGBT people. 

This study helps us connect that school bullying and harassment of LGBT youth has a far reaching impact:  lower GPAs and absenteeism might decrease a student’s chances of getting into a college they want or getting a job that suits them.  It is important for our schools to be safe places for all students to learn, socialize and grow.

Read the full article here.

Advertisements

Eating Disorders and Gay Men: One Man’s Story

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 21 – 27, 2010, we’re focusing on LGBTQ youth and eating disorders:

Eating Disorders and Gay Men

Eating disorders amongst men are rarely studied or talked about.  For many gay men, this makes it all the more difficult to identify and seek assistance for a growing program.  When they do, they often feel ashamed. Sparse information leaves professionals attempting to treat men — often ineffectively — with approaches that are appropriate for women.  Filmmaker Travis Matthews tells his story at The National Eating Disorders Association.  His movie  Do I Look Fat? has been screened at colleges and universities, health centers and has received acclaim at a number of film festivals.  His site also offers resources and information on the issue of gay men and eating disorders. It includes an interview with Ted Weltzin, M.D., the Medical Director of the Eating Disorders Center, a residential facility for treating eating disorders in men and women.  It is one of the only centers that treat men with eating disorders in the country.

Gay, bisexual teens at risk for eating disorders

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, February 21 – 27, 2010, we’re focusing on LGBTQ youth and eating disorders:

From Reuters Health:

Amy Norton Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:21pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Gay, lesbian and bisexual teenagers may be at higher risk of binge-eating and purging than their heterosexual peers, starting as early as age 12, a new study finds.

Past research has found connections between sexual orientation and the risk of eating disorders in adults — showing, for instance, that gay men have higher rates of symptoms than their heterosexual counterparts.

Less has been known about how sexual orientation affects teenagers’ risks of various eating disorders.

For the new study, researchers at Harvard University and Children’s Hospital Boston used data from a U.S. survey of nearly 14,000 12- to 23-year-olds to look at the relationship between sexual orientation and binge-eating and purging.

They found heightened rates of binge-eating among both males and females who identified themselves as gay, lesbian, bisexual or “mostly heterosexual.”

Purging, by vomiting or abusing laxatives, was also more common among these teens, the researchers report in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“We found clear and concerning signs of higher rates of eating disorder symptoms in sexual-minority youth compared to their heterosexual peers even at ages as young as 12, 13 or 14 years old,” lead researcher S. Bryn Austin, an assistant professor of pediatrics, told Reuters Health in an email.

Among females, lesbian, bisexual and mostly heterosexual respondents were all about twice as likely as their heterosexual counterparts to report binge-eating at least once per month in the past year.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual girls and women were also more likely to say they had purged in the past year in order to control their weight.

Among males, the highest risks were seen among homosexuals — who were seven times more likely to report bingeing and nearly 12 times more likely to report purging than heterosexual males.

Bisexual and mostly heterosexual boys and men also had elevated risks of both problems — with rates anywhere from three to seven times higher than those of their heterosexual counterparts.

The survey data do not offer a potential reason for the findings, but past studies give some insight, according to the researchers.

“We know that gay, lesbian, and other sexual-minority kids are often under a lot of pressure,” Austin said, noting that these teens are often “treated like outsiders” in their own families and schools, and may be excluded, harassed or victimized by bullies.

“This kind of isolation and victimization can take its toll on a young person,” Austin explained, “and one of ways it can play out is in vulnerability to eating-disorder symptoms and a host of other stress-related health problems.”

She added that because negative attitudes and discrimination against sexual minorities are still pervasive in society, families need to be a source of support.

It is “incredibly important,” Austin said, “for parents and other family members to reach out and make sure these youth know they are loved and supported, that they can count on their families to stay by their side.”

SOURCE: Journal of Adolescent Health, September 2009.

// // // //

See the original story

Want to learn more about eating disorders and LGBTQ youth?   On January 12, 2010 the National Youth Advocacy Coalition (NYAC) invites LGBQT youth service providers and educators to learn more about the unique ways eating disorders affect Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Queer and Transgender youth. Click here to register for free, and submit your questions in advance.