‘Kids need supportive environments so they can figure out and be as true to themselves as they can be’
LGBTI people have better self esteem and less depression as young adults if they are open about their sexual orientation or gender identity, a study has revealed.
Researchers have claimed if you are going to hide your identity to the world, it is far more likely to lead to abuse and depression.
Stephen Russell, the study’s lead author, says kids need ‘supportive environments so they can figure out and be as true to themselves as they can be’.
Following a Florida high school that attempted to block students from forming a gay-straight alliance group, Russell asked if students would end up better off later in life if they were open about themselves.
“There was no real data to suggest otherwise,’ Russell said.
245 LGBTI young adults in California, aged 21 to 25, who said they came out in middle school and high school took surveys to measure depression and life satisfaction.
The researchers found those who suffered homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying were more likely to suffer in adulthood, but that abuse occurred regardless of whether the students disguised their identity or not.
‘I think one of the sobering things we learned is that saying you’re out to others is linked to victimization and saying you need to hide was linked to victimization,’ Russell told Reuters.
But even after abuse, people who said they were ‘out’ at school were better adjusted compared to people who weren’t.
Researchers said while these results obviously cannot be applied to all LGBTI youths, they found schools with trained staff, policies that protect all students and gay-straight alliances all help to combat mental trauma in LGBTI kids.
‘I think what’s promising about this study is even though coming out comes with risks, being out is going to come with benefits in the long run,’ Russell said.