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Survey: LGBTQ teens in Arizona face anxiety, don’t feel safe at school

(Flickr/Kevin Krejci)

PHOENIX — Teens in Arizona who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer are experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, and many don’t feel safe at school, a new survey finds.

The findings are based on the response from 330 LGBTQ teens, ages 13 to 17, who participated in an online survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. It’s part of a nationwide survey of more than 12,000 respondents.

One of the major findings: Two-thirds of LGBTQ teens in Arizona have received unwanted sexual comments, jokes and gestures in the past year.

“The survey shows the majority of young people here in the state of Arizona, and nationally, hear negative comments about who they are and their identity,” said Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign.

The survey also finds 54 percent of teens said they hear negative comments about being LGBTQ from their parents. Sixty-five percent also said they are teased and bullied at school because of their LGBTQ identities.

Only nine percent of teens surveyed said they receive positive messages about being LGBTQ at school.

Griffin said LGBTQ teens should have the same stresses as other teenagers, including getting to school on time and studying for exams.

“Instead, our youth – because not enough adults are standing up to protect them in their homes, in their communities and in their schools – we see these devastating numbers,” he said.

Griffin added there are a number of steps adults can do to protect LGBTQ teens. That includes ensuring schools have policies that don’t allow bullying and protocols on what to do if a teen is bullied for identifying as LGBTQ.

“There is a role that everyone can play – whether you are a healthcare provider, a parent, a friend, an ally, a teacher or administrator – to show you’re affirming support,” he said.

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