New Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Report: Troubling mental health trends and challenges for LGB youth

Young people need supportive and nurturing environments to thrive

This year’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (YRBS), a survey of high school students around the United States, included some positive trends for sexual health, but rising rates of suicide and mental health challenges, and huge challenges for lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth, should be an alarm call for anyone concerned about young people’s well-being.

Overall, young people are protecting their sexual health and using effective contraception. But it’s worrisome that condom use is down. Worse, this study comes at a time when honest sex ed is under attack, with the Trump Administration committed to funding ineffective and harmful abstinence-only programs.

Also very troubling is the rise among all youth in persistent feelings of sadness, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. As a nation, we are facing a mental health crisis, with young people highly impacted. As we work on solutions to this crisis we must ensure that young people are included and consulted.

The survey finds that LGB youth are more likely to experience bullying, violence victimization, sexual assault, and other threats to their health and well-being. Previous studies have found that transgender students also face these challenges and more. Many face rejection and discrimination from peers, from school staff, and at home and in their communities. As a result, without the support and nurturing that their heterosexual peers receive as a matter of course, these young people have even higher rates of persistent sadness and suicidal ideation.


“Young people are making great health decisions in areas where they have control and we’ve given them the tools they need,” said Debra Hauser, President of Advocates for Youth. “But too many young people, especially LGBTQ young people, face toxic environments and overwhelming challenges with little or no support from family, community, and schools. It’s our responsibility as a society to ensure that young people have all the tools they need to protect their physical and mental health, to secure their futures, and to thrive. We are at a crossroads for young people, and the stakes couldn’t be higher.”



Advocates for Youth is a 501(c)3 organization that champions efforts that help young people make informed and responsible decisions about their reproductive and sexual health. Advocates believes it can best serve the field by boldly advocating for a more positive and realistic approach to adolescent sexual health. Advocates focuses its work on young people ages 14-25 in the U.S. and around the globe.

For Immediate Release: June 14, 2018

Contact: Lincoln Mondy, Lincoln.Mondy@BerlinRosen.com, 214-449-5973