Results of National Youth Risk Behavior Survey

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released their results of an anonymous survey conducted in 2019, called the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) It is based on responses from more than 13,000 students nationwide, including rural areas. Of all the participants, 2.5% said they were gay, 8.7% said they were bisexual, and 4.5% said they weren’t sure of their sexual identity. This study found that lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) high school students are far more likely than their classmates to be raped or assaulted in a dating situation, feel unsafe, and are at a higher risk for suicide. Specifically, it showed:

  • About 1 in 5 (LGB) students said they had been raped at some point in their lives, compared to 1 in 20 of their heterosexual peers.
  • Nearly 1 in 8 (LGB) students who had gone out with someone in the past year said their date committed some form of physical violence towards them like hitting them or slamming them against a wall. That was nearly two times the amount of violence that was reported by heterosexual students.
  • More than 1 in 3 (LGB) students said they had been bullied in school, compared to 1 in 6 straight kids.
  • More than 1 in 10 gay, (LGB) students said they had skipped school the past month due to safety concerns. Less than 1 in 20 heterosexual kids reported the same.
  • More than 1 in 4 of (LGB) students said they had attempted suicide in the previous 12 months, whereas 1 in 16 straight kids reported they had attempted suicide

This study also found that the LGB students are at a higher risk for suicide: 

  • 66% felt so sad and hopeless they stopped participation in routine activities
  • 47% considered suicide
  • 40% made a suicide plan
  • 23% attempted suicide within 12 month.1

The YRBS did not include the entire spectrum of sexualities and gender identities. For example, it didn’t separate results for questioning students. Also, it did not consider transgender students. Nearly half of young transgender people have seriously contemplated suicide, and one quarter has made a suicide attempt.2 Questioning youth are 3x more likely to attempt suicide as their straight peers.3 The 2019 study shows that LGB youth are 3.5x more likely than their straight peers to have a suicide attempt severe enough to require medical attention.

This study was conducted on high school students, yet injustice shown towards the LGBTQ community starts as early as grade school and can be experienced at all ages. Jonathan Mermin, M.D., director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention, said it best when he summed up the YRBS findings by saying:

“These tragic disparities call for accelerated action by public health and education agencies, communities, and families to protect the lives of lesbian, gay and bisexual youth. Connectedness-or social bonds-to peers, teachers, schools or community organizations is key to protecting the health of these adolescents. Students will succeed if they know they matter, and feel safe and supported socially, emotionally, and physically. Solutions may not be simple, but we can talk action to build support for lesbian, gay and bisexual youth at multiple levels.” 4

Click Here for a Summary of all the Data from the 2019 YRBS study.


Results of the 2019 SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) Adults

In 2019, SAMHSA’s (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration) National Survey on Drug Use and Health focused on patterns of substance use and mental illness among adults (age 18 and older) of different sexual orientations. Below is a summary of some of the results for LGB adults 18 yrs or older. 

Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders- for those struggling with a substance use disorder, 1 in 2 struggled with illicit drugs, 3 in 5 struggled with alcohol use, and 1 in 6 struggled with both.

Mental Illness- 2 in 5 had a serious mental illness

Alcohol use disorder- 12% (546K) ages 18-25 and 11.8% (1.2M) for ages 26 or older.

Opioid Misuse- 8.5% (389K) ages 18-25, and 10.1% (989K) ages 26 or older

Serious mental illness among the LGB population ages 18-25 and 26-49 significantly increased since 2016. Major depressive episodes with severe impairment among LGB males (age 18-25) significantly increased compared to 2016. Same for women in this age group compared to 2018 statistics. Having a substance use disorder significantly increased suicide thoughts, plans, and attempts for LGB age 18 yrs or older (20% more had thoughts, 6.9% more had made a plan, and 5.4% more had attempted).5


Four young adults holding a "#TeachAcceptance" banner to promote acceptance of others


If you are part of the LGBTQ community, you are not alone.  Even though you may sometimes face fear, hatred, and prejudice in school, with friends, in the community, and even possibly in your own homes, you must never lose hope. Do not let the actions of the unaccepting take the joy out of your life. Some excellent organizations are available to you that can provide support and links to services. Our Resources page will direct you to some of these organizations, as well as to a 24/7 Crisis Lifeline, Chatlines, Text Line and Youth Talk-Line.

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2019 Youth Risk Behavior Survey. Available at Accessed on April 17, 2021
  2. Grossman, A.H. & D’Augelli, A.R. (2007). Transgender Youth and Life-Threatening Behaviors. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behaviors .37(5), 527-37.
  3. CDC.(2011). Sexual Identity, Sex of Sexual Contacts, and Health-Risk Behaviors Among Students in Grades 9-12: Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  4. CDC.(2016). Press Release: First National Study of Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Students’ Health Finds Higher Levels of Physical/ Sexual Violence and Bullying Than Peers
  5. 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (LGB) Adults by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Available at Accessed on April 17, 2021