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Physical and sexual abuse of gay and bi teens a ‘public health crisis’

Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) teens are at greater risk of experiencing physical and sexual abuse, new research shows.

The survey of almost 30,000 young people by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that LGB teens are almost twice as likely to be the victims of violence as their straight peers, US News has reported.

Over one in 10 LGB teens reported intimate partner violence in the past year, and more than one in five reported sexual assault.

Lead author Theodore Caputi of Harvard Medical School said the research is among the first to use a recent, nationally representative sample to evaluate the “striking” extent of abuse and violence against LGB young people.

“Unfortunately, physical and sexual violence are commonplace in the daily lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and questioning [LGBQ] adolescents,” Caputi said.

“Given the severe physical, mental, and emotional health consequences of violence victimhood, this high prevalence represents a public health crisis.”

Director of San Francisco State University’s Family Acceptance Project Caitlin Ryan called the study findings “alarming”.

“These high levels of physical violence, forced intercourse, and sexual assault towards lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are very alarming, and call for targeted violence prevention and intervention services,” Ryan said.

The research found that gay and bisexual boys were nearly five times more likely to be sexually assaulted or raped than their straight counterparts, while lesbian and bisexual girls were almost twice as likely to be in physical fights.

Bisexual young people were found to be at especially high risk of sexual assault and intimate partner violence.

Caputi said the findings showed that adults must take action to keep young gay and bisexual people safe.

“All adults have a role to play in fostering accepting and safe environments for LGBQ children,” he said.

A Canadian study last year also revealed that young LGB people feel less supported by their families, with researchers calling for targeted programs to help parents accept their children.

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