Advocate.com reports that a new Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network study found that LGBT youth faced three times as much cyberbullying than their non-LGBT peers. The findings, which note that LGBT adolescents living in rural areas experience an elevated level of online harassment, show that 42 percent of LGBT youth face more online bullying as compared to 15 percent of straight, cisgender youth. Text message harassment was also included in the study, which found LGBT youth twice as likely to report the intimidation.
Results came from a national survey of 5,680 students in middle and high school. The study, titled "Out Online: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth on the Internet," found that youth affected by bullying had lowered self-esteem, lower grade point averages and a higher likelihood of depression.
Despite the disheartening evidence, the survey did find that LGBT youth on the Internet are also more likely to garner increased peer support, access to health information and opportunities for civic engagement. The study found that LGBT youth were actually twice as likely to research medical information online than their non-LGBT peers, with transgender youth making up a large portion of that number.
"The Internet does not serve to simply reinforce the negative dynamics found offline regarding bullying and harassment," said Michelle Ybarra, the president and research director of the Center for Innovative Health Research, in a statement. "Rather, this technology also offers LGBT youth critical tools for coping with these negative experiences."