Stigma, Bullying, and Depression
Put yourself into the shoes of LGBTQ...
Imagine you were sitting on the couch on the
weekends and saw this TV commercial…
How would you
feel or react?
**Quick Note: HB 436 is the
bill for same-sex marriage in
“I used two bar magnets in my research. A bar
magnet is a horizontal magnet that has the North Pole
and the South Pole and when you bring two bar
magnets and you bring the North Pole together you
find that the two North Poles will not attract, they will
repel, that is, they will push away themselves showing
that a man should not attract a man.”
Nigerian Student Uses Magnets To 'Prove'
Gay Marriage Is Wrong
The story of
LGBTQ and Self-
● Disclosing a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and
queer (LGBTQ) identity to others, or ‘‘coming out,’’ has
been shown in past research to be associated with
mental health benefits (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein,
● The LGBTQ population may anticipate stigmatization,
negative judgements, and rejection.
● Stigmatization is defined as a mark of disgrace.
● Costs of concealment are also very stressful.
● Costs include lower relationship satisfaction in same-
sex couples, emotional distress, and other mental
health issues (Legate, Ryan, & Weinstein, 2012).
● Bullying is defined as a specific form of aggressive behavior, which
is intentional, repeated, and involves a disparity of power between
the victim and perpetrators; within this context bullying consists of
several different subgroups such as: Physical, Verbal, Relational,
Social, and Cyber
● LGBTQ youth have admitted to experiencing bullying in all these
subgroups, at much higher rates than their heterosexual
● GLSEN released a study on LGBTQ youth and cyberbullying and
found: 42% of LBGTQ youth reported being harassed or bullied
online, this is three times more than non-LGBTQ youth, while 27%
reported feeling unsafe online
● Sometimes called the “invisible minority”, LGBTQ youth often cite
extreme harassment and bullying for being open about their minority
sexual orientation and gender non conforming
● Victimization of LGBTQ youth continue to be a prevalent problem within
the U.S school systems
● Bullying and harassment are systemic problems in schools that affect
adolescents, and this is especially true for sexual minority youth
(Wernick, Kulick, & Inglehart, 2013).
● Researchers indicate nearly a third of transgender youth reported being
verbally harassed by teachers or staff in a K-12 school, 5% reported
being physically assaulted by these adults and 3% reported being
• A national study found that most LGBTQ (64%) students feel unsafe
in school because of their sexual orientation and over one-third
(40%) felt unsafe because of their gender identity (Wernick, Kulick,
& Inglehart, 2013).
• Although most bullying incidents occur at school, bullying also can
occur out-of-school, such as on their way to school, at home, and
other public places
ABC’s What Would You Do Gay Bullying
Effects of Bullying
● Most LGBTQ students (65% to 85%) report
experiencing harassment or bullying based on their
perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender identity or
gender expression (Wernick, Kulick, & Inglehart, 2013).
● Bullying has been linked to a number of negative mental
health and academic outcomes including fear, anxiety,
depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, self-injurious
behaviors, lower academic performance, school
avoidance, and dropping out (Wernick, Kulick, &
LGBTQ and Depression
● LGBTQ individuals have been found to be at greater risk than
heterosexuals for developing depression due to exposure to societal
stigma, prejudice, discrimination, bullying, and verbal/physical attacks
(Birnholz & Young, 2012) (Hoffman, Freeman, & Swann, 2009).
● LGBTQ adolescents experience higher levels of isolation, runaway
behavior, homelessness, domestic violence, violent victimization,
substance abuse, and suicidal ideation more so than heterosexual and
gender-conforming youth (Hoffman, Freeman, & Swann, 2009).
● Mental illness is still stigmatized in our society and so is being part of the
LGBTQ community. An LGBTQ individual with depression may be in the
unfortunate position of having to contend with dual stigmas which
subsequently negatively affects their mental health.
Suicide & Considerations
for the LGBTQ
Recent history: Suicide’s
Tyler Clementi: Was an 18-year-old student at Rutgers University. After his
roommate recorded his “private time,” with a male companion, he decided
to commit suicide by jumping off the GWB. Tyler came out to his parents
prior to leaving for school. Date: September, 2010.
Jamey Rodemeyer: Was 14-years-old at the time of his suicide by hanging.
Reasoning for killing himself were constant bullying at school. Jamey was
an activist for anti-gay bullying. He had support from his family. Date:
Jaime Hubley: A 15-year-old student from Canada, was dealing with
depression stemming from anti-gay bullying at school. Date: October, 2011.
Considerations that play
into elevated suicide risk
- Members of the LGBTQ community are likely at a higher risk of depression,
anxiety, substance abuse and other mental health issues. Because of this
they are more likely to be at risk of dual stigma.
- Internalized Homophobia: Individuals turn societies negative views about
- Family is critical in their well being. Research has shown that the higher the
family support the less at risk LGBTQ youth are of suicide. How ever
opposite of this is when family is unwelcoming of the child’s sexual
orientation. When family abuses the individual either verbally, physically or
psychologically the risk of suicide is elevated. 40% of callers to the the
Trevor Helpline report issues with family.
- In more extreme cases families can go as far as disowning their child, in
which they end up homeless.
- 28.1% of gay or bisexual males in grades 7-12 had attempted suicide at least
once during their lives in comparison to 4.2% of heterosexual males in
those grades. 20.5% for lesbian or bisexual females in comparison to 14.5%
for heterosexual females. (Remafedi, French, Story, Resnick & Blum, 1998.)
- Safaren and Heimberg (1999) report that 30% of LGB youth vs. 13%
heterosexual youth (average age of about 18) had attempted suicide at one
- Eisenberg and Resnick (2006) 47.3% of GB adolescent boys and 72.9% of LB
adolescent girls reported suicidal ideation, compared with 34.7% of non-GB
boys and 53% non-LB girls.
* Point of interest - Interesting that more adolescent girls are thinking of suicide
than boys, but more boys are acting on their thoughts.
- Are there enough qualified counselors in schools that can
- Are schools teaching students that homosexuality is a
normal variation of sexual behavior?
Mental Health Treatment
• Over the past 40 years, the attitudes of mental health
professionals have shown a positive change towards
• A 2005 study found that 58% of psychologists
supported a gay-affirmative stance in therapy,
compared to only 5% in 1991
• Despite these positive changes in attitudes, however,
many mental health professionals still report a lack of
focus and training on LGBTQ issues.
• Recent studies suggest that gay, lesbian, and bisexual
populations are actually more likely to report using
therapy or counseling than heterosexual groups.
Multicultural Disparities in
Mental Health Treatment
• Studies on the effectiveness of LGBTQ treatment have
been predominantly done on white samples.
• African American, Latino, Native American, Pacific
Islander and other ethnic and racial minorities must face
racism and homophobia.
• Underrepresentation of people of color in the mental
• Lack of inclusion of Bisexual and transgender
• Rural Populations
• Limited research on those with severe mental illness
Guidelines for Practice
• Assess the Degree of LGBTQ Identity Development
o Cass’s Model of Identity Development (Cass, 1979, 1984a, 1984b)
o Early stages (1-3) are at higher risk
• Assess Level of Disclosure
o Less far along in identity development, less likely to disclose
o Respect the client’s level of outness
o Explore costs and benefits of coming out
• Assess for Safety
o Often present for services at a point where safety is an issue
o Crisis Intervention may be indicated
• Provide Accurate Educational Information
o Minimal factual information is generally provided within education
Guidelines for Practice
• Establish a Supportive LGBTQ
o Display openness and acceptance
o Appropriate language
• Advocate for Enhanced Social Services
o Lack of services for LGBTQ youth
• Advocate for More Supportive School
o Counselor awareness of hostile school
o Advocate for non-discrimination policies, zero
tolerance, teacher, staff staff training, etc.
• Advocate for Social Change
• Cognitive Therapy
o Help diminish their stigma related feelings of depression and anxiety
o Identify, label, evaluate, and correct distorted thoughts and beliefs
o Replace with less self-defeating and more realistic thoughts
o LGBTQ youth have often grown to believe that homosexuality is
shameful and wrong
o Counselor should identify negative and inaccurate beliefs that reflect
o Replace beliefs by shifting blame for these ideas on a stigmatizing
o Reduce emotional distress by attributing negative messages to other
external sources of prejudice
Legate, N., Ryan, R. M., & Weinstein, N. (2012). Is coming
out always a 'good thing'? exploring the relations of
autonomy support, outness, and wellness for lesbian, gay,
and bisexual individuals. Social Psychological And
Personality Science, 3(2), 145-152.
Wernick, L. J., Kulick, A., & Inglehart, M. H. (2013). Factors
predicting student intervention when witnessing anti-
LGBTQ harassment: The influence of peers, teachers, and
climate. Children And Youth Services Review, 35(2), 296-
Suicide Prevention Resource Center. (2008). Suicide risk
and prevention for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender youth. Newton, MA: Education Development
LaSala, M. (2006). Cognitive and Environmental
Interventions for gay males: addressing stigma and it’s
consequences. Families in Society: The Journal of
Contemporary Social Services.
Disparities in Mental Health Treatment among GLBT
Populations NAMI Multicultural Action Center • June