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LGBT teens who come out at school have better self-esteem, study finds.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender adolescents who come out at school have higher self-esteem and lower levels of depression as young adults, compared to LGBT youth who don't disclose their sexual orientation or gender identity at school, according to a new study.

The findings are from the first-known study to document the benefits of being out during adolescence, despite the fact that teens may experience bullying when they openly identify as LGBT.

Researchers examined data from the Family Acceptance Project, a research, intervention, education, and policy initiative at San Francisco State University designed to prevent risk and promote well-being of LGBT children and adolescents.

The project's survey of 245 non-Latino white and Latino LGBT young adults, ages 21 to 25, showed that respondents experienced victimization and bullying in high school because of their LGBT identity--whether or not they came out.

However, those who were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity in high school reported higher self-esteem and life satisfaction as young adults than those who did not disclose, or who tried to conceal, their sexual orientation or gender identity from others at school.

Those who came out at school also reported lower levels of depression as young adults. The results were the same across genders and ethnicities.

"We know from our other studies that requiring LGBT adolescents to keep their LGBT identities secret or not to talk about them is associated with depression, suicidal behavior, illegal drug use, and risk for HIV," said Caitlin Ryan, director of the Family Acceptance Project and study co-author. "This study underscores the critical role of school environment in influencing LGBT students' risk and well-being into young adulthood."

Lead researcher Stephen Russell, PhD, of the University of Arizona's Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, said the new findings, showing that being out at school contributes to well-being later on, will be important for educating parents, school officials, and others about how to provide the best support and guidance for LGBT students.

"This is clearly aligned with everything we know about identity," he said. "Being able to be who we are is crucial to mental health."

SOURCE: <> The study was published in the Nov. 2014 American Journal of Orthopsychiatry (Issue 6) <>.

By Alexis Blue and Cathy Renna, University Relations Communications and the Family Acceptance Project

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Title Annotation:Research Findings; gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
Author:Blue, Alexis; Renna, Cathy
Publication:The Advocate (American Mental Health Counselors Association)
Date:Mar 1, 2015
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