KTTU "In Focus," Sunday, 8/1`4/11, 10:30 AM & KMSB "Fox-11 Forum," Sunday, 8/21/11, 7:30 AM

Posted: Updated:
By Bryce Potter By Bryce Potter

Host Bob Lee interviews Dr. Stephen Russell, director of the U of A’s Francis McClelland Institute for Children, Youth & Families.  He is also the president-elect of Society for Research on Adolescence.

“That’s so gay,” a phrase often used dismissively and casually by teenagers, can impair the health of LGBT youth long after classes end, according to a recent study.  Russell participated in the school victimization study …published in the May issue of the “Journal of School Health.”   

Russell says LGBT youth who experience high levels of victimization at school are more likely to report health problems in early adulthood, including depression, attempted suicide, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV risk. He says LGBT young adults who reported high levels of school victimization are 5.6 times MORE likely to report having attempted suicide.  He says the “politics” of sexual orientation too often get in the way of the implementation of programs promoting safe school policies and programs in U.S. schools.

Russell says schools have safer LGBT school climates when they have and enforce clear and inclusive antidiscrimination and anti-harassment policies that include LGBT identity and gender expression.  He says even modest reductions in LGBT school victimization for those who experience it most in middle and high school would result in significant long-term health gains. He says Arizona has had anti-bullying legislation since 2005, requiring school boards to enforce procedures that prohibit students from harassing, intimidating and bullying other students.