The DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education recently released their 2009 District of Columbia Youth Risk Behavior Survey for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Question youth covering risk behaviors including depression, suicide, substance abuse, and school safety.
In the key findings of their study, DC OSSE found that nearly 25 percent of LGB identified middles school students reported bullying at school because someone thought they were gay. 9 percent of LGB high school student report missing four or more days of school in the past 30 days. This is astounding when compared to 1.8 percent of heterosexually identified students. Nationwide 89 percent of LGBTQ student report verbal harassment at school and 60 percent of those student harassed or assaulted at school did not report it to school staff.
Furthermore, 12.3 percent of LGB youth have reported using cocaine, versus 3 percent of their peers. Similarly, 14.8 percent of LGB youth have reported using methamphetamines, compared to only 2.7 percent of their classmates.
Finally, 29 percent of LGB middle school and high school student report attempting suicide at least once. This is three times the national average for heterosexual middle and high school student.
This is disconcerting when reviewing 2007's data . In 2007 the percentage of LGB middle and high school students who had attempted suicide was 28.9 percent; remaining relatively consistent across two years. Even more worrisome is that only 18.9 percent of LGB student reported being harassed in 2007 while 25 percent of middle schoolers reported being bullied just two years later.
The DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education does not list the study in its entirety on their website making it difficult to provide results for transgender youth, comparing other risk behaviors, and the like. In fact, these survey results were demeaned "unusable" by the Center for Disease Control because the DC Office of the State Superintendent of Education only achieved a 36 percent response rate in 2007 and a 38 percent response rate in 2009. The CDC required at least a 60 percent response rate.
In light of recent events, receiving valid and accurate data is paramount for the safety of our LGBT especially when considering the aforementioned data. How many students are we ignoring? How many students are we leaving behind?
A goal needs to be set for accurate and representative youth data in Washington, DC.